Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Joyce McMillan - The Scotsman
Published: 20 February 2008
4 stars ****
DAVID PAUL JONES is probably best known to Edinburgh theatre audiences as the man behind the music for site-specific shows by the Grid Iron company. In truth, though, he’s a pianist, singer and composer of immense lyrical talent and depth, exquisitely explored in this recent cycle of nine songs abour “love lost at sea”, which played over Valentine’s weekend at the Traverse. For an hour, Jones sits at his lone piano, under a single light, and washes his audience with ripple after ripple of rich, rocking cadences and textures, shifting from slightly sinister minor keys to sunlit major and back, as he returns to the sea again, and its Davy Jones locker of drowned dreams.
The style of Jones’s music is fiercely post-modern, full of melody and an almost filmic descriptive quality; his sound-poetry lyrics create a sense of mystery and incantation that links romantic desire with spirituality and faith. But whether this intense lyrical quality is to your taste or not, there’s no denying the sheer technical brilliance and sustained intensity of Jones’s performance; or the courage with which he refuses the emotional bleakness of musical abstraction, and insists on continuing to explore the deepest, most romantic waters of human yearning and vulnerability.
Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Mary Brennan - The Herald
Published: 5 November 2007
4 stars ****
DAVID Paul Jones leans in towards the microphone and softly speaks the introduction to Palmstar Poppy. His words tell of a sea-farer casting off on a quest, searching for a love lost on a long- ago lone voyage. There's a sense of yearning after the unattainable but also that making no effort to trace his lover's final journey would be a betrayal of love itself.
The song cycle that follows, with Jones the composer/performer, shimmers and soars with a similar melding of hopes and heartaches, all drawing on the mystery of attraction and the wishful thinking that lingers about romantic relationships. In some hands, this would be laid out in bellowing ballads or drizzly whingeings, but Jones's songs have no inkling of the banal and no truck with the faux-histrionic. They are simply exquisite, ranging from gossamer threads of melody underpinned by rippling piano phrases to deep, swelling piano chords, like doomsday knells, offsetting vocal lines plangent with the painful awareness of loss and finality.
Between times, there are flashes of whimsicality, not just in Jones's piano soundscape but in his lyrics. He has a Lear-like readiness to frame fantasy words that conjure up places and atmospheres tingling with incalculable magic. Like love itself, you feel their charge but you can't really nail it in concrete terms. Burns's Ae Fond Kiss, sung slowly and with quiet sincerity, is the perfect encore. I'll end on another pleasing note: Palmstar Poppy is set to tour in the spring.