"I wanna be another rolling stone," Laney Jones declares on a dynamic new cut from her latest, forthcoming project, which, just like its author, defies convention and sets an intention for the exciting next chapter of her career.
A raw, versatile, and heartfelt performer, the East Nashville-based artist has spent the last few album cycles building a loyal following of fans who feel drawn to her innovative blend of cathartic lyricism, poetic wordplay, and innovative melodies that recall everyone from Angel Olsen to Sharon Van Etten to Brandi Carlile and Andy Shauf.
True to their word, all Laney Jones and her band, The Spirits, want to do these days is roll into your town and gently blow your mind with their unique brand of rustic Americana, psych-folk, and confessional indie rock.
Born in Maryland and raised in Florida surrounded by animals, thanks to her parents, who raised kangaroos, wallabies, and other exotic creatures on their 10-acre farm, Laney began performing in middle school, where she starred in local plays and musicals. A remarkably well-rounded student (and current online chess champ), Laney had a gift for academia and at one point sought a degree in international business. To deal with the resulting academic burnout, however, Laney found refuge in songwriting and, after studying abroad in China and completing undergrad, Laney — a multi instrumentalist, playing guitar, banjo, keys — earned a songwriting scholarship to Berklee College of Music.
Jones soon found widespread acclaim with a string of early releases, drawing comparisons to the likes of Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver for her majestic take on organic roots music. Her 2013 debut, Golden Road, landed her a nationally televised performance at The Kennedy Center alongside Alison Krauss, Sara Bareilles, and Ben Folds, while her 2016 follow-up, Laney Jones, prompted Rolling Stone to hail her as an Artist You Need To Know and praise her “penetrating hooks” and “Seventies-era flourishes.” Tracks from the albums, meanwhile, racked up millions of streams on Spotify and turned up in films from major studios like Disney and Pixar alongside commercials for Google, Netflix, New Balance, Toyota, and Red Bull.
Laney’s 2022 album, the cinematic, journeying Stories Up High (produced by Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Langhorne Slim)), found the singer in a genuine state of healing and renewal. “I know a lot of people struggle with insecurity and self love and have a lot of anxiety hovering around all the time,” Laney says. “I really felt like the process of making Stories Up High, going through COVID and a lot of different health stuff, I hit my rock bottom. But I feel like Andy Dufresne coming out on the other side of the river of shit clean. I feel so much freer, and now I’m allowing myself to be my true self.”
Pulling from a collection of brand-new songs and ones dating back to 2020, Laney felt eager for this new batch of material to inspire togetherness, community, self-acceptance, and personal celebration — a marked departure from the more isolation-minded Stories Up High. Taking some older material from sessions that didn’t make the previous album, Laney began writing new songs on a whim earlier this year while recovering from knee surgery. Inviting friends over, Laney spontaneously wrote what would become the urgent rock romp “Waiting On You,” which emphasizes Laney’s mission to live her truth. “I was a late bloomer in the music scene,” she says. “I didn't come from a musical family at all, but I always loved it. I just never knew it was a way of life.”
Laney continues: “I'm 30, but I feel like a little high school kid now, more than I did when I was in high school. I feel like I really have band friends now who I've learned so much from — making music, going out on the road, and bringing the party wherever we go.”
Adding to her sense of completion is the fact that Laney recorded all of the guitar parts on her latest project and oversaw production in collaboration with Tokic, who mixed the record at East Nashville’s famed Bomb Shelter Studios. “I'm tired of waiting around for anybody or anything,” Laney says of her newfound sense of purpose. “I just feel like I just need to be myself. ‘Waiting On You’ is almost like me talking in the mirror to myself.”
Meanwhile, on the drawling, mid-tempo ballad “We Belong Together,” which is a co-write with Laney’s bandmate, drummer, and husband Brian Dowd, the singer draws inspiration from Kurt Vonnegut’s science-fiction book The Sirens of Titan. “The lyrics ‘beneath the ocean where I'm going’ and ‘feed me goofballs so I can breathe’ are directly from that book,” Laney says. “It’s not necessarily a romantic thing. It's more the idea that we all do belong together. We are a tribe of people. We all exist.
“I describe my songs as ‘mantra songs,’” Laney adds. “I'm not a religious person, but I am spiritual. I wanna sing stuff that gets people to a higher vibration.”
Elsewhere, the acoustic-led “Stay At Home” (a holdover from the Stories Up High sessions) gradually builds into a laid-back stomper with Laney’s exorcizing yelp at the forefront. “‘Stay At Home’ harkens back to my lack of confidence in myself,” Laney says. “I started writing it during the pandemic, but I felt too self-conscious. But I still think it's a really great song, and I’m just done with holding on to stuff for too long.”
Nowhere is Laney’s liberated mindset more on display than on the country-tinged harmonizer “Feel Something,” where the singer murmurs: “It's the ripping of my heart out/ The flicker of a dream/ That binds us to tomorrow and makes us feel something.”
“It's the idea that nothing's ever perfect, but it shouldn't be,” Laney explains. “My husband and I had talked about making original music with no road map or compass to guide us to success. I guess we're masochists because we love it. I think how hard it is but how real it is. That's what we're about. That to me is why I love doing this.”