Portland's been a good music town long enough now that it's deserving of an ode like Yes We Kin's That We Will, a four-song EP that breathes our city's air and walks its streets. A solo debut of sorts for Cam Jones (Worried Well, In the Audience), he shows himself to be an up-and-coming performer and songwriter who grew up here, knee-deep in our local scene and neck-deep in music in general, a guy who loves music fiercely enough to get a tattoo on his inner arm that inspired someone at a recent show to yell out, "Hey, is that a Hold Steady tattoo?"
Yes, it's a Hold Steady tattoo.
That kind of devotion and care makes for a highly listenable introduction, with delicate vocals and a feel for intra-song dynamics that get you invested even though you're unlikely to sing along for a while. There's also just so much to listen for — digital whirs, tidbits of electric guitar, cycling and ferocious strumming, even the footsteps that walk away from the mic to close "I Wish I Were a Regional Writer." This is a collection of songs where you know there was a decision behind every single note.
That sense of place will remind you of the Weakerthans, too, so that when you hear "he treats you like hell, and everyone else sees it," you've got someone in mind, even if it's not the right person.
There's a lot of Wilco here, too, as in "Suffered in Mill Creek," where acoustic guitar provides the melody, but there's ample opportunity for the rolling percussion to stretch out and Dominic Grosso's stand-up bass provides a weighty thump to a song that sometimes threatens to just float off into thin air. Strings squeak. Electric guitars call to you from far away.
When "River Eyes" gets rambunctious, Jones letting loose on the full drum kit, it's an emotional release, loud enough to shake the cobwebs left after the thought-piece that is "From the Middle of Deering Center to the Top of State," where "they're not quite throwaway moments/Nor are they ones to really keep."
I expect to encounter quite a few keepsakes in coming years from Jones, whether as Yes We Kin or under a different moniker. He appears to be the kind of songwriter where music is more of a mandate than a choice.
THAT WE WILL | Released by Yes We Kin | yeswekin.bandcamp.com