Jay Clark & The Jones Home Fires Burning

The second outing from this Toronto unit immediately ups the ante from their debut, a rather paint-by-numbers effort. Instead, here off the top we get the power pop-ish "Open Invitation,” which sets the table for an overall more ambitious range of styles. The songwriting of co-front-men Jay Clark Reid and Ian Philp has matured, but it is through accentuating added instruments, like James Chapple’s keyboards and Ken Yoshioka’s harmonica, that now makes J.C. and the Jones contenders. The title track, especially, has a Jayhawks-like grandeur about its arrangement, while elsewhere, the rollicking barroom piano on "Night In Question” is a nice touch, and even the funked-up "Booze Can” doesn’t seem out of place. Taking a few chances is well-suited to this band, and the more they stay away from predictable alt-country, the better. That said, both Reid and Philp have become adept at writing convincing tear-jerkers, with "Counting Stars” and "Thank You” standing out as highlights. It will definitely be interesting to hear how they pull off some of this stuff live, but either way, Jay Clark and the Jones are a band any roots rock fan will want to keep an eye on. (DOC)