Two years ago, Matt Jones almost died — and the twist here is, unlike some sappily spun story about a bearded, dumped dude finding hope in some hackneyed Thoreau-esque cabin-escapism, Jones readily admitted that even if it was Music that saved his life, it was Music that almost destroyed it, too. Indeed, his airy voice sweeps with devastation and delicacy, that breathy scrape that tails into sweetly clawing trills like the comforting hand that grasps, almost violently, at your shoulder to comfortingly rear you back from the edge, from collapse. Yes, dark and beautiful, as the cliché goes, the kind of heavy shit that makes you glad you’re only inside the narrator’s shoes (or roped to the narrator’s chair) for just four minutes at a time, but damned if he doesn’t wind it all together with such poetic allure.
I’m not here to spin the same old story that Jones deserves just as much romanticizing and rabble as the big Grammy-folkies or any other; I’m just here to remind you that there’s always something you’re missing, that one might never know what poignant, revelatory musical moments can be mined from unassuming voices, moments, songs that prove more rewarding and endearing than any of that stuff that Starbucks is selling you. Peek into Michigan’s folk scene — it’s been churning along for a while now — particularly with Jones’ recently-released Half Poison / Half Pure. Then peek down an overlooked street in Detroit’s northwest corner through the lens of director Oren Goldenberg (Our School). A hazy, daydreamy drift along crumbled curb-sides in front of the houses and the people of the suburbs of post-post-industrial America that often get left outside the frame.
It builds. It starts to roll. The clapping begins. Clap along.