Lonesome Jonesome, The Peeper and Chin Chin

The kind of performer for whom the term “bedroom artist” might have been coined, Lonesome Jonesome is the silly alias of Chris Jones, a young guitarist from Derby. The Peeper and Chin Chin (eh?) is slight to the point of inconsequentiality: a mere 18 minutes long, it consists of ten flimsy instrumental doodles on classical guitar and tambourine. The music is pleasant enough, and restful in a trivial kind of way, but I can’t imagine why I would ever want to hear it again.

It’s the sheer lack of ambition and commitment evident in this release that I object to. The music sounds deliberately hemmed in and circumscribed, and makes no effort to break out of its self-imposed isolation. In fact Jones makes a positive virtue of this solipsism, from his facetious alias to the liberal use of ambient sound effects picked up by the recording (passing cars, a knock at the door). These were presumably left in to emphasise the music’s one-take, off-the-cuff informality, but they just end up reminding the listener of the pitifully small horizons of Jones’s worldview.

What Jones fails to grasp is that in attempting to express himself in terms of raw, unmediated spontaneity, he is actually adopting a pose – and one, moreover, that is as studied and cynical as any other pose. These ten short pieces, with their gently strummed and plucked melodies, exhibit a general air of fleeting indifference; they would be perfect as incidental music for a British film of the summery, breeze-through-the-hair kind. As a CD in its own right, though, I actually find The Peeper and Chin Chin quite insulting in its insouciance.

(originally published in The Sound Projector 17, 2008)

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