From Earth to Heaven is The Jones Family's long-awaited follow-up to its critically acclaimed debut album, Unquiet. FolkWax says, "This seminal album of heaven-sent harmonies and expert musicianship is one of the best CDs to come across my desk in a very long time."
The songs on From Earth to Heaven range from the secular to the sacred and from the traditional to the contemporary. All have The Jones Family's unique stamp: tight harmonies, soaring solos, and tasteful instrumentation.
On the traditional side, Chenoa's stunning lead vocal in the slowed-down sea chantey "The Wild Goose," accompanied by Joseph Cunliffe on flute, gets the CD off to a perfect start. Two traditional hymns, "I Will Guide Thee" and "Wondrous Love," show off the family's exquisite harmonies. The percussion on the latter song will delight all but shaped-note purists.
Chuck sings lead on the chantey "Bold Riley," backed up by what the CD notes call the Extended Jones Family Choir. This ensemble also backs up Chenoa on the little-heard drinking song "Toddling Home." The Joneses' ease with a cappella singing is amply demonstrated by the traditional "Thousands or More." And Chuck adds unexpected depths to the prodigal son story of "Wild Rover," assisted by Robert Spates's superb fiddle work.
Songs by contemporary singer-songwriters are also well represented on From Earth to Heaven. Richard Thompson's "Poor Ditching Boy" and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" give Chuck two opportunities to explore the perplexing nature of romantic love. Chenoa, accompanied by Chuck on the piano, does full justice to the aching sadness of Sarah McLachlan's "Angel."
Brenda has the lead vocal for a change on Jean Ritchie's "What'll I Do With the Baby-O," which features a discussion on child care that most parents wouldn't want to overhear. ("Throw her out the window" is one of the milder suggestions.) An entirely different mood is created by David Byrne's" Dream Operator," featuring Chuck on real and toy pianos. The CD is brought to a quiet close with "Crossing the Bar," with words from a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson and with an incomparably beautiful melody by Rani Arbo, formerly of the group Salamander Crossing.
In sum, From Earth to Heaven is an outstanding second CD by an ensemble that FolkWax called "staggeringly talented" and that caused Sing Out! to exclaim, "All hail the family band!"
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1. The Wild Goose
2. Poor Ditching Boy
3. I Will Guide Thee
5. Bold Riley
6. What'll I Do with the Baby-O?
8. Thousands or More
9. Dream Operator
10. Wondrous Love
11. Toddling Home
12. Wild Rover
13. Crossing the Bar