Laurence Jones is an English blues rock guitarist. Having won The Young Artist Of The Year at the British Blues Awards for three consecutive years, he has been building his reputation as one of the hottest acts in modern blues rock. His expansive style, which incorporates striking riffs and blazing solos into neatly arranged compositions, led him to be compared to none other than Eric Clapton. And just like Clapton, Jones has his music heavily stepped into the blues tradition but is not afraid to explore new genres and approaches. Seeking to develop a more rock-based line of work, he has just released his sixth studio album: Destination Unknown.
The album’s concept was originally conceived during the pandemic lockdown, and the final adjustments were made as the world returned to normal. Released through Marshall Records and recorded live at the legendary Abbey Road Studios with the mixing table Rolling Stones used on “Tattoo You”, the record features only a few overdubs and boasts a clear, clean overall sound. However, the guitar parts retain some slightly corrosive, dirty-sounding edge, which is a phenomenal approach when it comes to guitar-heavy albums.
Backed by Bennett Holland (backing vocals, Hammond organ, piano and synth), Jack Alexander Timmis (bass) and Samuel Jenkins (drums), Jones’ explores the fiery whip of his lead guitar while still offering nuance and texture in a series of compositions directed towards a hard rock, British power pop sound. And while the blues elements are present, especially in the solos, they sit in the background of the song’s rock structure.
The album kickstarts with the bluesy hard rock number “Anywhere With Me”, in which the heavy, crisp riffs steal the spotlight in classic, Bad Company-esque fashion. “Can’t Keep From Loving You” remains in the hard rock territory but this time with a more dancing, light-hearted flair while the richly expressive, glam rock-styled “Gave It All Away” would not sound out of place on a Sammy Hagar-era Van Halen album. The same could be said about “I Won’t Lie Again”, with its explosive, sing-along chorus and arena rock feel.
“In Too Deep” returns with the pure, classic hard rock attack while “Destination Unknown” brings the album to its satisfying conclusion. The hard-hitting power ballad starts a little more quietly before Jones’ graceful yet incisive vocals and powerful lead guitar work reach their peak in a dramatic, exuberant finale.
Arguably one of the strongest albums released this year, Destination Unknown is an effort by an artist seeking to develop and enhance his unique identity, even if it means leaving his comfort zone. And while the blues elements are not as present on the album, any fan of the genre will appreciate Jones’ pedigree as a songwriter and guitarist.
The Review: 9/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Anywhere With Me
– Can’t Keep From Loving You
– Gave It All Away
– I Won’t Lie Again
– Destination Unknown
The Big Hit
– Destination Unknown