Jonathan Singleton & The Grove - Release

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Jonathan Singleton & The Grove - ReleasedJonathan Singleton & The Grove - Released

 

Jonathan Singleton & The Grove - Released

 

A Review of Released by Nell Fuqua

Two West Tennessee songwriters have found new energy and passion through collaboration. And the music industry is all ears.

Ted Jones of Humboldt and Jonathan Singleton of Lexington/Cedar Grove have recently co-written “an album’s worth of songs” that are creating a buzz in music circles. Both have been writing and playing music since they were teenagers, and were beginning to feel fatigued and bored. But that has all changed since they met and began working together six months ago. Each credits the other with inspiring him to write again.

“I’ve been writing a long time, around 30 years,” said Jones. “I started playing guitar at about 14, and right away I started writing. I never had a plan, and a lot of my early stuff is just no good. Right now I’m beginning to write stuff that’s actually worth people’s time and attention. I’m a more mature thinker than I was 10 years ago. At one point I just said ‘That’s it, I’m leaving Nashville.’ I thought I was done, and moving back to Humboldt.”

“But when I met this young man (Singleton) I was blown away by his performance He has the most convincing performance and delivery of a song that I’ve heard in a long time. I heard his band (The Grove) one night, and I thought how cool it would be to have them play a couple of my songs. I introduced myself, and found out he had written more songs than I had.”

“My mom had a rock/country band,” said Singleton, “and my brother and I went to their practices and wanted to learn. First we got drums and a bass, and he learned and then taught me. My parents wanted us to get into the music business and were always very supportive. I went to college at Northeast Mississippi Community College on a full scholarship, and got a degree in Commercial Music.

“But a few months ago I had quit writing. I was bored, sick of playing in bars, sick of playing in general. I was married, happy-what was there to write about? Then I started working with Ted, and it rekindled my desire to write great songs.”

“Whatever he’s got and whatever I’ve got just complement each other,” Jones added, “and that’s a blessing. That doesn’t happen to me every day. Working with Jonathan has taken my music to another level. I trust his instincts- we’re getting the best of both worlds.”

What kind of music do they want to write? “Not so much any particular style,” said Jones, “just great songs. I want to write the kind of music that I would want to hear on the radio, or in performance-music that I would buy for my friends. I don’t try to target a particular audience, because that kind of thinking messes you up. I want to focus on writing a great song, one that rises above. It has to be honest.”

I like to mix genres of music. I like country, rock, bluegrass. I like elements of all of them.

“I like to mix genres of music,” added Singleton, “I like country, rock, bluegrass. I like elements of all of them. I have to really like music before I’ll buy it, the kind that has some of this and some of that, and good songwriting. Same goes for performance. You’re mixing all those styles together.”

Singleton’s band, The Grove, has recently begun playing a set of these original songs during their performance at Barley’s in Jackson, on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Judging from the crowd’s response, they have definitely stuck a nerve.

A mix of country, rock, and blues, the Jones/Singleton sound evokes the music and lyrics of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Band, Van Morrison- and delivers it with an upbeat style. They write intensely personal stories- of love lost and found, of losing oneself and trying to get back on positive ground, of taking joy in the simple things in life, of spiritual longing and questioning- and Singleton sings them in his signature style with an honest passion straight from the heart. It’s the kind of music that music lover will listen to over and over, until every word, every nuance is committed to memory.

Recently, The Grove performed the same set at 3rd and Lindsey, a Nashville club. Jones was in the audience, along with several industry moguls, to gauge the audience’s reception. “I heard these guys put on a show,” he said, “and I don’t know if I’ve ever been as proud in my life of anything. They brought down the house.”

“I think what happened is we presented a group of songs by the same writers, the same musicians, and the crowd responded to it as a body of work,” Singleton added.

What’s next? “I like doing what I’m, doing, I’d just like to make little more cash. I’d like to get a song cut,” offered Singleton.

“I’d like to have enough money to go in the studio and experiment and do whatever we feel like, to have that freedom to do what we like instead of what some manager wants us to do. I want to be respected by my peers as a songwriters,” added Jones.

That wish might not be too long being fulfilled. When Roger Murrah, a publisher and hall of fame songwriter in Nashville, heard the latest Jones/Singleton demo, he declared it to be the most refreshing sound he had heard in twenty years.

Gentlemen, start your engines.

 

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