"If the moon refuses to shine," Jones ponders, "would the stars be forced to resign?"
There are times when it might be true that Jones lets the lyrics dictate the length of the song, and wanting to accomplish a lyrical goal makes the song longer than it should be. "Empathy" stretches to 5:10. "When I've Got Time," tinged with alt-country thanks to a tambourine and a bit of twang, is at 4:20 and could be 3:20.
"Mixed Messages" is a crisp 2:26, though, with Jones evincing a warmer delivery and getting sing-songy in a good way. "No Regrets" clocks in under three minutes, too, with lots of organ, aggressive guitar, and an impressive forward drive that fits with the song's theme of not looking back: "Now my guitar is out of tune/It's not the only thing that needs attending to/Maybe it's time to change the strings/Maybe it's time to change a lot of other things," but, well, no regrets, baby.
It's easy to have that kind of sentiment when you're putting out a record like this, self-assured and confident (even if there's a modesty and understatedness built into what Jones does). It feels like the exact record Jones was trying to make, and it's a record that makes you want him to make more.
Sam Pfeifle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BROKEN RECORD | Released by Zach Jones | available March 22 | with Dean Ford | at Empire, in Portland | April 8 | zachjonestunes.com
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