There are thousands of singer-songwriters, but only one Southpaw Jones. Cruelty, his fourth disc, finds the local raconteur again treading the fine line between urban poet and old-fashioned folkie. What stands Jones apart is his love for words and the way he uses them. Some might discredit his stretching for rhymes and simple wordplay, but fighting through the distended verbiage is half the fun. Cruelty finds him backed by some fab friends – Matt the Electrician, Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Seela, Bruce Hughes – for his most complete vision yet. Check the slinky fiddle on whimsical ode "Fatty Arbuckle" or the xylophone on the deviously political "Main Street." Ever quirky are "The Last Remaining Beatle," "Wheat Threshers," and "The Cruelty of Teenage Girls." In a world where singer-songwriters take themselves too seriously, Jones is surely not for everybody, but his irreverent world-view remains entertaining and adorable.
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