In an era where spectacle often seems to trump substance in entertainment (and politics), people like Jonathon Linaberry are a refreshing throwback to a time when music was music and artists were storytellers. A time chock-full of American folky-blues goodness.
Linaberry, a New York-based musician, credits legends such as Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lightnin’ Hopkins for the inspiration behind the sound of his one-man band, The Bones of J.R. Jones and this week we were lucky enough to premiere the music video for “Bless Your Soul”, the new single off his latest album, Spirit’s Furnace.
The video or more properly, short film, is surprisingly good. I’m talkin’ ‘Terrence Malick directing a Coen Brothers story’ good. It opens with a haunting voiceover and before long, we’re watching a man hunt down another through snow-covered woods. The struggle quickly turns animalistic with both rolling around on the cold dirt until one finally, albeit barely, overcomes the other. The ambiguousness of the dispute in the video was an intentional move on both the directors, Duncan Winecoff & Keenan Flynn, and Linaberry’s part, “We always enjoy things a little bit less when they’re presented to us all wrapped in a little bow. Life isn’t that way. Everything is up for interpretation and colored by our experiences.”
It should also be noted that the inspiration for the song stems from what Linaberry refers to as a “feeling” that happens to people who’ve a hard lot in life and as a result, inject religion or spirituality into their belief system. “It’s a coping mechanism for a lot of us… It’s a way to rationalize things.”
Either way you look at it, Linaberry’s soulful vocals set over the backdrop of a tense quarrel on a serene winter day makes ‘Bless Your Soul’ a must watch.
Your personal life and experiences are reflected more strongly in this album than ever before with examples such as ‘Wedding Song’. Can you give me some background on what aspect of your life inspired ‘Bless Your Soul’?
I can't say for sure what aspect of my life really... For me it was more of a "feeling." It was that moment that you hope that something or someone recognizes the good you are trying to do in life.
Generally, I feel like that "feeling" happens to people who have a hard lot in life and a result of that they inject religion or spirituality into their belief system. It's a coping mechanism for a lot of us, although I don't think many people would say that. It's a way to rationalize things. That's what "Bless Your Soul" is to me.
You made the creative choice to keep the music video open to interpretation by leaving the story intentionally ambiguous. Can you explain your motives behind this?
The directors and I talked a lot about this. We all came to the conclusion that we always enjoy things a little bit less when they are presented to us all wrapped in a little bow. Life isn't that way. Everything is up for interpretation and colored by our experiences.
We wanted to create a video that reflected that sentiment.
Was the music video a standalone story or is it part of something larger that you plan on revealing in future videos?
I don't really know yet... I really enjoyed working with All Expanded on it and I put a lot of trust in their vision for this thing. That being said... I don't think I am into a continued story line, but I do like the idea of creating more videos that take place in the world that this video lives in.
Lastly, you’ve said that with Spirit’s Furnace, you’ve more closely blended yourself with your persona, The Bones of J.R. Jones. Will we ever see the two combine or do you feel the need to have this separation of personas for the health of your music?
Separation is key. I don't think my music would suffer as much as my personal life would, if the two were to become one. To be honest, I never really look at The Bones of J.R. Jones as a persona... as much as a very raw, primal version of myself. It let's me work out a lot issues I have... it's a bit of a release for me. It lets me be a better person off stage.