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Soul artist Cleveland Jones wears his heart on his sleeve in his debut album, Ace of Hearts. And that’s not a bad thing. Jones’ deliciously raspy, elastic tenor inspires, soothes and despairs throughout.
It’s an extremely well-arranged collection of songs that relies more on immediate emotional impact, rather than traditional pop hooks, to suck the listener in at first go round. With tracks ranging from the aching “Heart Breaks” and “To My Father,” to the funkily cathartic “Free Yard Sale,” it’s clear these songs have been building for some time.
The Berklee-trained Jones brings a much-needed shot of old-school flavor back into his genre. In an industry and audience where most ears have become accustomed to programmed beats, digital instruments and auto-tuned vocals, this album is a breath of fresh air. Arrangements including rich horn accents, warm organ fills and swelling backing choruses are a welcome change. There’s nothing like hearing musicians doing their thing, and doing it well.
Ace of Hearts is available this Friday, May 10.