Jonathon Long doesn’t just have the blues. As the Baton Rouge-bred musician sings on the opening track of his new album, Parables of a Southern Man, he has a burning fire for the blues, and he doesn’t discriminate when it comes to subgenres.
“I try to write songs that can pertain to different people from many different musical appreciations. The way we consume music, when most stuff is downloaded, you don’t have to listen to the whole record to find a couple of songs you like, songs you connect with.”
There’s something for everybody on Parables. For the blues purists, there are timeless themes of love and heartbreak, but interpreted in a thoroughly modern way that’ll appeal to a younger generation.
On The Ride, Long howls about his desire to lose himself and find love and peace, but to do so, he has to “turn off the GPS." Struggling with the spiritual realm has always been at the heart of the blues, and Long has found a way to keep that concept current.
“I grew up in church – with the hypocrisy of the church,” he says. “People see Jesus as the perfect white, long-haired, hippy-dippy Jesus. We wouldn't recognize Jesus if he walked into a church today, simply based on what American culture has made Jesus.”
As his second record for singer/songwriter/guitarist Samantha Fish’s Wild Heart Records, Parables sees Long taking the next step in a career that has seen him grow from a child prodigy in Louisiana, where his parents signed partial custody over to Henry Turner to allow their 14-year-old to tour as part of his band, to an opener for BB King to his current status as an accomplished frontman.
Over that journey, he’s built up the chops to blast through Skynyrd-esque fuzz on Dangerous, subtle and clean country runs on Pain and the hard electric blues of Savior’s Face.
No matter the type of blues, Long keeps it classy on Parables – while there’s plenty of tasty pentatonic licks sprinkled throughout, the solos were consciously pared back, a decision that Long attributes to producer Fish.
“She wants everything to make sense, to not be too jammy. I like to get crazy and shred, but in the studio, it needs to be clean and understandable so there’s not too much confusion going on and too many notes in a measure,” he says.
“Live has a lot of room for that, so if you can capture a clean, listenable version of the song in the studio, you’re good.”
- Jonathan Long's new album Parables of a Southern Man (opens in new tab) is out now via Wild Heart Records.