Some musicians are simply artists; others are artistes. By definition, all musicians are artistes, but few go through the pains of actually exploring the innards of their soul and channeling that manna into an substantive art form, hence the literary distinction. That depth is what sets the ever-thoughtful Matthew Perryman Jones apart from his peers, and he’ll give locals a treat when he performs at Jammin’ Java on Tuesday night.
This is not to make Jones out to be some barefoot teller of tales (though I’ve never met the guy — we only spoke over the phone — so don’t hold to me that characterization if I’m wrong). But he comes across as a the kind of layman philosopher who continuously kindles your curiosity…and whose method of communication just so happens to be catchy hooks and soothing melodies.
It should come as no surprise that Jones avidly absorbs the lives and experiences of various Eastern and Western cultural icons. An admiration for Vincent Van Gogh is accompanied by a fascination with poets such as the German Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to the Persian Rumi. Jones’ esteem for those fellow artistes comes from their ability to convey the human condition around the globe and through every epoch; something he also strives for in his work.
“As a songwriter, what I take from these people is that they tap into something universal. That’s why we can read it hundreds of years later and still resonate with it,” Jones said. “When you’re dealing with human heart, it’s never out of fashion…so the more I write from the heart, to the heart, the more I do what I think poets do so well and why I’m drawn to those kind of artists.”
Told you guys Jones is as deep as the Mariana Trench. But in all seriousness, this isn’t some schtick to rope people into buying merch and concert tickets. Ever since Jones decided to take up music professionally at 24 (he’s now 44) and move to Nashville, he was never about being a rockstar or looking to binge on fame. He simply wanted to connect his life experiences with people through music. That’s what allowed the notoriety that came with his success to be received as more of a pat on the back rather than a trophy in his case.
Furthermore, it’s why he chose to stay independent instead of signing on to a record label. It’s not like the offers haven’t been there from even some of the more well-known companies, but Jones felt uncomfortable tying his career to an entity with different goals in mind. He’s heard some war stories from other artistes who’ve admitted it was their most miserable experience as a creator. The threat to his artistic integrity is why he steered clear of joining a label throughout his 20 years in the industry (though he also concedes that he might not be the hit factory most labels would cherish as is).
Most of all, the independence has kept Jones’ voice intact. It’s why he’s able to keep evolving at his own pace, as is the case with his latest album The Waking Hours that came out in September and brings a different flavor than his previous works. You could even say Jones’ album is subconsciously titled as a homage to how connected he is with the artistes he aspires — scratch that — succeeds at emulating.
“The people who are the most awake are often times the people who are most disturbed in a sleepy world,” Jones added. If he’s just now considering his career is in its own waking hours, expect more enlightenment to come.
Matthew Perryman Jones will be performing at Jammin’ Java (227 Maple Ave. E., Vienna) on Tuesday, Oct. 16. You can purchase tickets at jamminjava.com/event/1701117-matthew-perryman-jones-vienna.