Chris Jones

Too Far Down the Road – 2006 (Little Dog)

Reviewed by Rev. Keith A. Gordon

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With 20 years behind him as a well-respected gentleman flatpickin' for the likes of Vassar Clements and the Lynn Morris Band, Chris Jones' solo albums have leaned, expectedly, towards the bluegrass genre. With his fifth studio album, Jones ventures into the unfamiliar, though not unwelcome territory, of traditional country.

Working with notable Americana producer and label head Pete Anderson, who lends his talents with all things stringed, Jones has assembled a solid cast that includes Dobro wizard Mike Auldridge and pedal steel master "Boo" Bernstein. Featuring guest appearances from Rhonda Vincent and Chris Hillman, Jones casts his line into the country currents.

Jones pulls off the transition from bluegrass picker to country crooner with ease, the two genres being kissin' cousins, anyway. Jones' talents as a songwriter are allowed room to grow in the lyrical country style, songs like the rollicking rave-up "She Does All That" or the tear-jerker "Like A Hawk" displaying no little skill and insight. Jones also has the good sense to cover the best, his reading of Tom T. Hall's "Hero In Harlan" showcasing Jones' deep, friendly voice and the subtle mastery of his guitar.

This sounds like a debut, and in many ways it is - Chris Jones stepping out beyond the limitations of his beloved bluegrass to embrace a wider musical worldview with impressive results.