Lovers’ deceptions. Bitter memories. Cynical impressions of romance. Yes, love songs, songs of love lost and mourned, abound on Jones’s fourth record. The gifted singer-songwriter conjures a darkly romantic mood. “You listen to my answers/ Complete with alibis/ But still my heart beats faster/ Than I can make up lies.”
Since most of the songs are original collaborations between Jones and producer-husband Don Dixon, it makes her tart observations on love all the more curious. (With critics speculating about Dixon’s seemingly dominant influence on her work, Jones had joked about titling her last LP Good Golly Svengali before deciding on Used Guitars.) But it’s still the music that matters, and Jones doesn’t falter.
If there were anything resembling pop-music justice, the title track would bring Jones her first true hit. She wraps her warm pipes around a nondescript keyboard riff on the chorus, and you know she has hit paydirt. The countryish “One Shade Darker” equates love’s ups and downs to a soldier remembering past wars: “If love is the answer/ I want to surrender.”
Like Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt, Jones has shown a talent for picking the right cover songs on past efforts. On this album, she works wonders with Loudon Wainwright’s “Old Friend,” delivering the following line with apt face-the-facts clarity: “The good old days are good and gone now/ That’s why they’re good, because they’re gone.” (RCA)