The Return of Tess of the Circle

12115812_1029666057107482_4179393504151610423_nI’ve been a fan of the music of Tess Jones for a few years now as he delivers this wonderful and authentic acoustic sound. He has released albums under the name Tess of the Circle which sounded so good that he has previously been featured on my site (see post Introducing Tess of the Circle). Now Tess has returned with his new album ‘Amplify’ and as you can guess by its name there is a change in the air. No longer this laid back acoustic sound, he’s brought the noise with a whole new rock feel and it’s really good.

As Tess of the Circle is now a rock band, Tess needed to bring in new members to help share this new chapter in his musical journey. This new look is made up of Tess Jones (vocals, acoustic/electric guitar and piano), Ben Drummand (bass) and Paul Stone (drums). Lee Clifton (acoustic/electric guitar, mandolin and backing vocals) is also included but he is not a new member as he has worked with Tess before on his album ‘Thorns’. Together they have created this new album which they say is ‘a refreshing commitment to providing the listener with a true musical journey that encourages memories of the first play of a now treasured vinyl record‘. Throughout 2015 they have been busy touring which has included five shows at Glastonbury, sub-headlining the 2015 Acoustic Festival of Britain’s second stage, and headling Bear Gryll’s Festival in London. After speaking to Tess he confirms that there is a lot more planned for 2016 and this is just the beginning of their journey. He also spoke about his change in sound, the new album and a little more. Here is what he had to say:

You have a new sound compared to your previous releases. How did this change come around?

I think music is in an era of change. We have had an incredibly long run of acts with a dominantly acoustic/introvert vibe stretching right back to 2001! Now, I think people yearn for some excitement in music and a return to a true live band experience. There will always be a place for acoustic music, we even incorporate it in to the latter half of the AMPLIFY album, but it’s time to turn on the amps!

What were your goals when working on the new album ‘Amplify’?

We really wanted to deliver a’ four guys in a room’ feel and capture the adrenalin of these songs. The production of this album, which was done brilliantly by Gavin Monaghan (Editors, Babes In Toyland, Ryan Adams, Lemmy) is focused on getting the parts right and recording them with a sense of energy. Creating hooks with 3 or 4 instrument parts rather than over embellishing the record with too many layers.

During the process of putting this album together, what were the highs and lows? Also, how did it feel when you heard the final version of the album?

There was a lot of fun had in making these songs come alive! And good food courtesy of the pubs of Wolverhampton! We recorded the AMPLIFY album in an industrial estate there. As many of us involved in TESS OF THE CIRCLE have grown up in the Midlands, it had a real sense of coming home about it.

Low points were nothing beyond the standard moments of self inquiry as to whether you are nailing the intentions you have set for yourself. Although the album production was steered with confidence, you don’t really know whether you’ve got where you want to go until the final mix and master is done. But we’re over the moon with the results. We trusted in the right people to do this record. This album is AMPLIFY by name and AMPLIFY by nature.

What is your favourite song from it and why?

I would choose two ! The very first song on the record and the very last. As they bookend what we do perfectly. ‘Love Is The Drug That You Crave’ because it was my first co-write with my long-term guitarist and friend Lee Clifton. It has a real sense of classic 70s rock meets fresh indie vibe about it. And, I love the honesty and simplicity of the album closer ‘This Higher Ground’, the strings are lush and reflect the mood of the vocals perfectly.

Now the album is out their for the world to hear, what are your future goals for your music?

I’ve recorded a solo album and two band oriented albums in 5 years. Right now I’m not even looking to what comes next. As I want my and everyone’s else’s mind to be focused on this album. We have a fair few gigs coming up and we want to deliver the best shows we can for the audience. So songwriting will just have to wait a little while.

When I first heard the album ‘AMPLIFY’ from Tess of the Circle it took me a few songs to get my head around the change as I was so used to their acoustic sound. However, once I got passed that hurdle I was really enjoying what I was listening to. What they have created is a great collection of songs that to me, feels heavily influenced by so many rock musicians ranging from the 70’s to the 90’s. I do hear more 90’s as I get a grungy feel (like early Pearl Jam) on many of the songs which is only a good thing for me. One of my favourite songs ‘Mother, Daughter, Son’ has this sound for me and Tess’ vocals sound so good too. The music throughout the album sounds great and mixes it up with rock and some softer tracks for old school fans (This Higher Ground is a good example of this).

1923650_955768144497274_357910768516386136_nEven though changes have been made, one thing that hasn’t changed is the impressive songwriting talent that Tess has to offer. It really doesn’t matter on genre, he knows how to mould his words that will have you hooked. Some of the songs have a great catchy feel about them, but others have a depth with more of a story. What surprised me the most when listening to ‘AMPLIFY’ is the vocals. I always knew Tess could sing but now he can deliver something edgy with power and I like it. My favourite song ‘Drowning without you’ showcases these edgy vocals which feel a little angry too, this helps to make this song stand out for me. It’s overall dirty rock feel and epic guitar solos also help to make it sound so good!

Overall, it might have took me a little while to except the change in sound of Tess of the Circle but I think I actually prefer this new direction. This is an album with an impressive variation in sound and it’s high calibre of songwriting will ensure this is something that deserves your attention. If you want to check out more music from Tess of the Circle then head over to their Soundcloud page or alternatively visit their YouTube page. If you like what you hear and want to purchase their music then this can be done via the usual online stores of Amazon (digital and CD) and iTunes (digital).

I can understand why Tess wants to focus on this album as it has a great sound, and according to the reviews sounds even better when performed live. If you want to catch one of these shows or want to learn more about the band then visit their website at Tessnotes.com. You can also keep up to date with what is going on in their world by following them on their social media sites at Facebook and Twitter. And remember, help support the music that matters to you by spreading the word and purchasing the music. So, if the music of Tess of the Circle ticks all the right boxes for you then tell the world about them today!