Three's A Crowd

Opus Jones

Independent release, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


There is nothing more refreshing to listen to than good acoustic folk. The interweaving of voices and guitars creates a mood for me that transcends any other joy I can think of (well.... except for maybe one other, but I gave up caffiene a few months ago, so I'm left with folk). Jim Croce knew how to do this. John Denver knew how to do this. And Opus Jones, an unsigned threesome out of the Washington D.C. vicinity, know how to do this.

Their debut disc, Three's A Crowd, is a movingly pretty collection of twelve songs that don't always take themselves seriously. And though the band's sound needs some fleshing out, this first effort will do quite nicely.

The trio of vocalist/songwriter Marc Dixon, vocalist Kara Figg and guitarist Patrick Hughes (who has since been replaced by Paul Gonzalez) has a unique charm that I haven't heard since the Indigo Girls first broke onto the scene. (To be honest, the guitar line for "Days Of The Week" sounds a lot like that for "Closer To Fine".) Dixon's voice reminds me of many different singers (not the least of whom is Darius Rucker) but also is able to create his own persona at the same time. Figg not only provides solid backup vocals, but acts as a lead vocal foil to Dixon on many songs (such as the irreverent look at libations on "Wine & Beer"). All the while, Hughes happily strums away on his acoustic, providing the musical backbone for Opus Jones.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The only drawback I can find to such an arrangement is that the overall sound is a bit thin. This is not an indictment against any of the band members at all; it's just that I found myself looking for a little more in the musical backbone. Perhaps the addition of another guitar, or even a bassist, would flesh out the sound and fill in the last blank I heard in this musical painting.

As for the songwriting, it's up there with the best of them. Tracks like "When April Snows," "Clement Lie," "Suddenly" and "Wanting" all make you wonder why this band (who have only been together since 1996) hasn't caught the attention of someone higher up in the music business. Folk is, by no means, a dead form of music, and Opus Jones proves almost right out of the gate that they're deserving to be ranked among some of the best artists.

Oh, sure, occasionally you hear signs of the band being so young. There are one or two times where I think either the vocals or the guitar is rushing a little bit ahead of the tempo, and there are scattered occasions where the lyrics are a bit banal (such as the track "Days Of The Week," a pleasant enough song, but c'mon, a song describing days?). Still, these moments are few and far between, and Opus Jones easily makes up for any shortcomings they may have.

Three's A Crowd is an album that Opus Jones should most definitely be proud of. Not only is it a solid effort that shows just how good folk music can be, but it also could be the springboard to something bigger for the band. Here's hoping that someone gives them a chance - they certainly deserve the chance for the whole world to hear them. 

Rating: B+

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Independent release, and is used for informational purposes only.