The Florida-raised, Nashville-based artist Laney Jones is a skilled singer-songwriter who performs on banjo, ukulele, guitar and harmonica. Jones earned critical acclaim with her early releases, drawing comparisons to the likes of Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver for her unique take on organic roots music.
Jones’ latest album, “Stories Up High,” brings something different to the table with its combination of indie rock, 1960s R&B and modern folk.
In advance of her recent show at the Center for the Arts opening for Blitzen Trapper, Jones joined us for a conversation in the KHOL studios.
The following interview transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.
JACK CATLIN/KHOL: “Stories Up High” is your first album in six years and has been described as a response to your struggles with mental health during the pandemic. Why did you have such a long break between albums, and how did music help you overcome those struggles during the making of “Stories Up High?”
LANEY JONES: Yeah, well, for me, honestly, it’s so much effort as an independent musician to put music out there. I have only been playing really for like 10 years. And so my first records just came out as me just hopping in front of the mic and just doing my thing or taking maybe a week in the studio and coming up with arrangements, but just really kind of letting other people steer the ship. And I wanted to learn how to make a record that I was proud of and be more artistic with it. And same thing with the writing, [I want to] only put out what I feel like is actually a statement rather than just everything that I got. So, this was me taking with care growing. And so, you see in my music it’s really just real-time growth. And this is like my first real expression of thought-out and adult musician now.
KHOL: The latest single on the album is “Not Alone,” and it features some great lyrics. ‘All of my family, all of my history, all of the friends I’ve known, all of the pets I’ve owned, all the books I’ve read, music that fills my head. I carry them with me wherever I go. I’m not alone.’ Can you touch on the significance behind that and how that song in particular came to be?
JONES: It’s kind of funny because I wrote it way before the pandemic and I actually recorded it before the pandemic and it just took a while to get out there. But I wrote it actually originally sitting down at the drums so it has that kind of straight-ahead beat. Just playing drums and the guitar at the same time and just getting in the rhythm of it. One of the lyrics that really stands out is the one that starts out, ‘I set my car date to the future but I keep on looking back because in my rearview mirror is the ghost of Christmas past trying to flag me down. You know, we’ve all been here before. Slow down a little, darling. You ain’t the only unicorn.’ And so I just had fun with language. I have a project that’s kind of like pop, punk. I get to spit some rhymes on it. And so it has opened me up to just having fun with cultural references and things. So, this was a song for me that I felt like a kid in a playground writing it and that’s just kind of what came out.
Listen above for KHOL’s full conversation with Laney Jones.
This coverage is funded in part with an Arts For All grant provided by the Town of Jackson and Teton County.