WASHINGTON – D.C. songwriter Justin Jones walks the line between alt-country and pop. His songs are driven by stories about heartache, mortality, religion and addiction. His early career suffered because of Jones’ battle with drugs, which he describes as a “negative period of my life that I’m glad is over.”
“I hope that is felt in the way I’m writing songs now,” he says.
Jones recorded his first album, “Blue Dreams,” in 2004 and released “…and I Am the Song of the Drunkards” in 2007. The latter album has an impressive array of arrangement choices. The neo-soul ballad “Seminole Town” features a horn section, the New Orleans-tinged “Long Time” is piano-driven and “Key” draws inspiration from bluegrass.
His 2010 effort – “The Little Fox EP” – was released by 9:30 Records. It is a short collection of songs that veer closer to straightforward rock than any of his previous albums. Following the EP release, Justin hit the road and opened for bands like Drive-By Truckers and Badly Drawn Boy.
Jones says his upcoming album, “Fading Light,” is “some of the most intense, emotional and personal work I’ve done to date.”
“It covers a lot of things,” he says. “My frustration with the direction I think this country is going…my relationship with my children [and] my wife.”
Yet the album is “wrapped around the title track,” which is about his grandmother.
The album will be released May 8, but Justin will be performing two CD release shows May 4 and May 5 at the IOTA Club and Cafe in Arlington. There are very few local bands that can pull off a two-night engagement, but Justin has steadily built a strong following.
Jones can count IOTA co-owners Jane Negrey Inge and Stephen Negrey among them.
“We are psyched to celebrate Justin’s new CD for two nights at IOTA,” they say. “Justin is a powerful artist and all his hard work is great for us fans. [We] support him 100 percent.”
Take a listen to “My Father’s Gun,” a song on “Fading Light.”