By Jessica Bakeman
An album of upright bass, fiddle and acoustic guitar doesn’t normally conjure images of binge drinking, casual sex and rock ’n’ roll — but that’s what you’ll find with “Dustin Jones and the Rising Tide.”
A mostly up-tempo drunken Celtic extravaganza, the album, released this month, showcases a unique style that just seems to work.
Fans of Jones’ band Inner City Surfers will recognize the familiar liquor-drenched lyrics on the album but not the musical style of lead singer’s new friends — brothers Sheldon and Marshall Jääskeläinen of The Wild Turkeys.
The album leads with a hard edge, with the wannabe rock tunes describing the lead singer’s addiction to alcohol and “honeys,” and ends with softy, vulnerable lyrics and accompaniment.
This collaboration with a Celtic-feel taps the keg with its first track, “Molly Malloy,” a piece profiling Molly who loves a certain activity — guess!
“‘Molly, whatcha drinkin’?’/ She says, ‘Booze, all day,’” the song opens. “‘Would you like a glass of water?’/ She says, ‘No, no way.’”
The song then slips into a three-part harmony chorus of “Molly’s on a mission,” a brave quest to keep up with the boys while drinking off her hangover, and repeating the mantra, “We’re gettin’ drunk all day.”
Jones’ vocal quality is reminiscent of vocals in the work of Simple Plan and Blink 182, alternating in levels of harshness.
The second track, “Hideout,” discusses the narrator improving his mental health: “Lost my keys/ Lost my wallet/ Lost my pride/ Lost my shoes/ Well if drinkin’ is a talent/ I’m sure that I’ll never lose.”
Despite the fact that the lyrics and instrumentals fit together like pieces of different puzzles, the awkward music is surprisingly enjoyable. Like Jones’ 2007 album “Inner City Surfers,” the stupidity of the lyrics is compensated for by the sophistication of the music, and though the centerpiece this time is a raging fiddle instead of a wailing electric guitar, Jones once again gets off easy.
“Rising Tide” is a gem of the album, and sounds much more like a traditional Celtic ballad, beginning in a capella three part harmony with a fiddle at the forefront of the track and the acoustic guitar strumming support in the background.
The most introspective of the tracks, “Don’t Know,” is the standard lyrical expression of not knowing what the future may hold. He does, though, tell what his music means to him: “I’m happy chasing dreams/ singing songs that I believe help me grow.” Apparently, his musical alcoholism is beneficial to his growth as a being.
“Guy Like Me,” one of the only songs on the album with a theme not centered around booze, pulls percussion into the mix. Featuring softer, fiddle strokes, the instrument sounds more like classical violin. Background vocals include scooping “ooo’s” straight out of 1950s sock-hop tunes. Jones gets soft again on this number, singing that “you might have met a lot of guys before/ But you never met a guy like me.” Finally a song with lyrical substance, the track comes in at only 2 minutes and 43 seconds, leaving listeners high and dry.
“Don’t Stop,” the defining mellow ballad ending the album, is by far the best track, giving listeners’ ears a conclusion to the controlled Celtic chaos that proceeds it.
The album takes you on the hiccup-ful journey of a partier’s night: It starts with the blind goal of getting drunk and having fun, then turns to thoughts of romance and sex, moves next to the intellectual ponderings of inebriation and ends with soft, mellow sleepiness.
For alcohol fans trying to experience a different drunk, “Dustin Jones and the Rising Tide” might be the perfect cocktail — even left unstirred.