by Chris Berggren
Local singer-songwriter Matt Jones grew up in Adrian and has been involved in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti music scene for the past decade. He's played, often on drums, with a plethora of local bands and performers and is currently active with Chris Bathgate, Misty Lyn & the Big Beautiful, and the High Strung. Now Jones and the latest incarnation of his own semi-revolving-door band, the Reconstruction, have released Half Poison, Half Pure, his third album and first in three years. It features Jones on vocals and guitar, backed by Misty Lyn Bergeron on vocals, Serge van der Voo on stand-up bass, Chad Pratt on drums, Colette Alexander on cello, and Greg McIntosh on guitar.
Jones' own music is a progressive form of indie folk that sounds not unlike a strange merger of the Decemberists and Andrew Bird. A towering figure, with short, sandy-blond hair and thick-rimmed glasses, he sings in a soft, quirky, and high-pitched voice that meshes well with his intricate lyrics. The sweetly emotive "Hammer Falls" begins forebodingly: "It'll be years before I'm back / With this ragged conscience, turning black / Towing eyes filled with what no throat can sing / A fitful foray into lack."
Half Poison, Half Pure is filled with tension and anxiety. Jones says the songs arose from a difficult period in which he was emotionally paralyzed, stressed about everything and nothing, and drinking way too much. The situation began to change only when he wrapped his van around a light post and received a DUI. He says the album's title refers to coming out of that poison period and being able to see the pure ahead, but being "stuck in the middle, unable and unsure of how to leave one and start the other." And in a way, it was making the album that moved him forward, though Jones says he can't stress enough how influential all the musicians he worked with were, on the process and the finished product.
Matt Jones & the Reconstruction play at Woodruff's on Saturday, July 28. While there's no telling what form the Reconstruction will take on that particular evening--the only regular members are Bergeron and Alexander--the new material makes it well worth going to find out.
[Originally published in July, 2012.]
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