Revealing yourself can be frightening. It can potentially be dangerous, too. On the other hand, it could be equally as empowering, assuring, and liberating. East London soul-searcher, JONES, has revealed her ‘New Skin’ in an ethereal, but wonderfully tactile full length debut.
“I was always singing, from a very early age I would sing anything I could.” She tells me. With the soul pulsing from her heart and through her veins, she remembers wanting to make her voice more powerful as a teenager. Buying vocal training CDs only elevated her voice, which now brims with sensuality and spreads and melts like warm butter.
With the idea that ‘New Skin’ was to feel both “classic and timeless”, JONES, born Cherie Jones, reveals that she was always “very aware that it would probably turn out to be different from what I heard in my head.” The organic process and passing on constraints allowed the album to form naturally, and in the same essence, the singer reflects, “I have developed so much and grown so much from doing it.”
Thematically, we hear a true spectrum of inner-most emotion over a two year time period. From lust, to love, to infatuation and anger and heartbreak. She picks up the pieces. Whispers of tenderness grow into almost ferocious ballads that tower in their power.
“I see life as one very long turbulent but amazing journey, and I’m always looking for new ways to understand myself, others, life and find happiness.” explains JONES, “A big part of finding peace is to accept and let things go. The album is called New Skin because I feel as I am growing up I am developing this new layer to myself – a new skin – and I want this to be a good thing and not something that holds me back.”
Whilst wearing her new skin as almost a silky gown, it’s not all shaking the blues. The new skin allows uplifting realisation (Walk My Way), motivational attitude laced with sass (Wild/Hoops), and supporting words (Tomorrow Is New).
“There is something about certain genres that will never die, and I think soul is one of them.” she says, excited that new technologies and formations mean that soul can be mixed in endless ways with electronics.
Believing that “it is healthy to allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling – if it is there it needs to be acknowledged.” JONES explains, “What is also important is to not be consumed by them or ruled by them [the emotion].”
“I think that in our society for a lot of people we are all trying to be perfect, trying to show that we are fine, happy. I think humans experience emotions like the seasons – it wouldn’t be natural if it were winter all year round with the exact same temperature…
“I think we should allow ourselves to feel where we are and be honest, so that we can move forward.”
Giving in to her emotions is something that makes ‘New Skin’ a record that breathes its honesty. It adds the edge of rawness to the vocal, and you believe every word that our songstress speaks.
Latest single, ‘Melt’ feels effortlessly light, glossed with calamity. Whilst ‘Indulge’ is as smooth as caramel; a lush blend of RnB vocals and angular electronics. A song about addiction to a person’s presence; “Infatuation is beautiful when you can look back and see it for what it is, but when you’re caught in it, it can be more of a destructive force.”
With a desire to make songs that feel comforting, and replicate the healing properties of her favourites; every lyric is wrapped in love.
Ache pumps into ‘Lonely Cry’ ‘In my hands, I’m holding all the fire and it hurts; in my heart I’m bleeding, in the silence afterwards.’ A tale of upset, not able to leave an unloving lover. Lathered in soothing melody, the lullaby of ‘Waterloo’ intensifies the lone, almost vulnerable vocal ‘Dreaming of you, I wake alone.’
“Well, we’re living in a funny time.” JONES laughs, when we turn to the subject of our generations dating habits, “In some ways we are the most free and most liberated we’ve ever been, which should on paper makes things automatically easier.” Our constant bombardment of images and fictional stories of what love should be, alongside social pressures and constant comparisons aided by social media are all things that the twenty-something year old singer says makes millennial dating so difficult.
“So it’s really all very confusing. Everyone is trying to discover who they are, and you can’t really be happy with someone else until you’re happy with yourself.”
‘New Skin’ explores the relationship between happiness with the self and happiness with others, and the teetering balance of dependence. For JONES, the process of making and wearing it has taught her how “to work with others creatively and let them in.” Admitting that in the beginning, when working with co-writers, “I found it hard to open up to people in a creative environment as I was used to doing everything as part of an introverted process. Now it’s great to be able to do both and be free with ideas that come up.
“It’s deeply personal but also liberating to share with people.”
JONES’ debut is one that celebrates life and all of its turbulence. Written by somebody with a wonderful understanding of herself, the power derives from being able to be honest with the self and all those who surround. When she says, “There is something wonderful about giving in to something completely… just take care.” You’ll believe her, and you’ll understand why with just one listen.
Words by Tanyel Gumushan