Don’t know too much about big voiced UK soul man ASHTON JONES. His people and his socials don’t say too much about his background and boring stuff like that. They just tell us that he’s besotted by the likes of James Brown, Earth Wind & Fire, Rick James and Prince and that his band are seasoned veterans who’ve played with people like Beverley Knight, Joss Stone and Pee Wee Ellis. All that was borne out in April when we first heard Mr Jones’ music via an EP and we were, mightily impressed by the sparse, gritty, funk workout that is ‘Good Things Guaranteed’ – shades of the above mentioned JB, Rick James and the Purple one!
The good news is that the ASHTON JONES PROJECT will be releasing a full album in September. The 11 tracker that is ‘Toast’ includes some of the EP tracks – notably the mighty funk of ‘Good Things Guaranteed’. There’s plenty more sanctified funk too – like the latest single, ‘Hard Work Dedication’ and the LP opener ‘Shelly Get The Funk Outa Here’ which reminds me a lot of the Temptations” ‘Standing On The Top’ (that man Rick James again!)… Interesting lyrics too.
What really impresses on ‘Toast’ though is the variety. Apart from the funk, the album boasts plenty of beautiful ballads and sweet mid-tempo items on which no expense has been spared on production. Try the gorgeous ‘How I Feel’ to hear what I mean… it’s quite beautiful; old school soul for old school romantics. And while we’re at it, ‘I Need Love’ is as good as any ballad that Will Downing has ever come up with … honest! Then if you want a crisp modern room beater, go to ‘Who’s Lovin’ You’ … no, not the Motown standard, a lovely band original that really satisfies.
We said up top that at the moment the ASHTON JONES PROJECT is something of an unknown quantity, but come September when their ‘Toast’ hits the racks all that is sure to change… a great 2019 album from a man with a mighty voice who, it seems, can do it all!