At its finest, country music is a vessel for emotion. From jubilant and raucous party songs to heartbreaking odes to love lost or the deeper meaning of life, good country music evokes feeling and tells a story. Enter Joshua Scott Jones, best known as half of Steel Magnolia. While his time in the duo with ex-fiance Meghan Linsey may have brought him almost overnight success, it also brought him tumult that ended with a stint in rehab.
Now sober and solo, Jones just released his debut album, The Healing, an album as much a journey through Jones’ psyche and life as music can possibly be. While it’d have been safe for Jones to go for a sound similar to what’s currently hot in country music, he threw caution to the wind on this offering, clearly more dedicated to his own story than commercial success. On The Healing, Jones takes us through the gamut of emotion, touching on his problems with alcohol, his failed relationship and his subsequent recovery, his voice distinct and graveled with emotion and his album a story of reflection.
While the album opens with the up-tempo “Honk (If You’re Tonky),” it’s reflective of Jones’ style, but not entirely reflective of the album as a whole. Whether you love or hate the single, The Healing is an album that deserves to be heard. Jones wrote or co-wrote every track and also executive produced the record, admitting, “This has been a long time coming for me. I feel like it’s really a chance for my voice to be heard.”
While other songs like “Tennessee Blues” and “Whiskey Anthem” may be up-tempo, the latter speaks very clearly to the theme of this album. With it’s driving mandolin and it’s melancholy lyrics disguised by tempo, Jones admits, “I’m the joke of the town/ Running around/ Waiting on you/ But you can’t be found.” As the lyrics state, this is truly a “whiskey stomping goodbye lullaby.”
The theme of heartbreak and tempting fate carry through songs such as “D.U.I.,” “City of Angels” and “You and I.” On “City,” Jones laments about the girl who left him for the bright lights of the West Coast, leaving him with only “her memory and a full time job,” while “You and I” echoes his brokenness. The former track, “D.U.I.” talks of tempting fate and self-sabotage, “I’m a little bit drunk, but I can still walk a line, “ Jones sings in a song full of beautiful, poignant metaphors. “Thank you warning so I’ll be alright/ Escaped another D.U.I.”
The last three songs on the album may be the highlight, a triumvirate of passion, vulnerability and a man who has been broken, but hasn’t given up just yet. “Lover Let Me Show You My Heart” is truly a standout track, sounding like a melancholy country tune of the golden days of the genre. It wouldn’t be far fetched to imagine the likes of Johnny Cash or George Jones singing this very song, just as it is. “Just How a Heart Breaks” was actually written by Jones on the piano at Cumberland Heights, where he completed his stint in rehab.
The album closes with the title track, “The Healing,” a simple piano-driven ballad that allows Jones to shine with honesty and vulnerability. “This is our moment/ We come to Jesus/ Get washed in the blood/ And pick up the pieces.” Jones sings on the chill-inducing track, as much a prayer of repentance as a song, his voice heavy with all of the trials he’s faced and his healing “May the hurt that we’re feeling,” Jones pleads. “Lead to the healing.”
There’s an authenticity in Jones’ voice that is rare and honest, giving listeners no doubt that he’s lived each and every lyric on this album. His lyrics are poignant and powerful, and despite the somber tones of The Healing, this is truly an album of hope, proving that above all stuggles, one can heal and turn that pain into a masterpiece.
Watch the video for “Honk (If You’re Tonky) Here: