James Eliot Jones moved to Portland from Austin, TX two years ago to join the touring lineup of local rock band Battleme. But when the tour ended, the veteran musician, who’s spent the past two decades on and off the road, saw an opportunity for a fresh start and decided to stay in Portland. There, he began writing what would become the tracks on The Needs’ currently untitled debut album, Eliot’s first solo project in over a decade.
In the vein of the Old 97s and The Jayhawks, Jones has crafted music that’s stuck solidly between country and rock. You can hear the first track on the album, “Black To Blue,” above. It’s twangy, catchy, and lyrically wry.
“Black to Blue” was co-written by Eliot with his friend Keni Thomas in 2010 while the two were on a USO tour of Iraq. “We started writing this one in Saddam’s wife’s palace, which was a military hotel at the time,” recalls Eliot. “A couple of months later, Keni came through Austin and we finished it up. It’s a song about being on the road and being in love, at the same time, and how difficult that trip can be.”
The Needs debut full-length is scheduled for release in the fall of 2016. Until then, you can catch The Needs at The Spare Room in Portland, OR on June 16th.