Moody guitar licks and sauntering percussion pave the way for Ian Jones on “Born Again Sinner”. Then, he wraps his raspy tone around the tune. It’s a slow burner influenced by country roots and the blues and was lyrically inspired by a chance meeting in Montana. Produced by Jesse Siebenberg (Kenny Loggins, Lissie), the song achieves a balanced clarity in its studio cut betwixt its fiery melodies and Jones’ nostalgic vocal grit. The tune features on Jones’ Evergreens EP set to release on 22 October—six Americana tracks intended as an extension of his previous LP, Results Not Typical.
Let’s talk some about “Born Again Sinner”. Would you please speak to the song’s background? How did the idea first crop up in your head, and what was it like to record?
So, let’s go back to a tour I was on a while back. I was in Montana and had been waking up WAY too early as the sun was coming up through my van windows. I was in the market for some black-out curtains and Velcro.
As I rolled into Hamilton, I was looking for a fabric store. I parked and was walking up the street when I came upon two young women talking on the sidewalk. I politely interrupted them and asked where I might find a fabric store where I could get some of the items previously mentioned.
One of the girls glared at me, but the other was very nice and took me by the arm and walked me up to the main street. She pointed down the road and told me of a store and directions in the store to where I could find both items on my list. I went down to the store, and low and behold, her directions were perfect. I picked up both fabric and Velcro.
Back in town and having a couple of hours to kill, I decided it would be the right thing to do to go back and thank her for her directions. I found where I had met her before, and it turned out that she owned a small salon on the main drag. I went in and proceeded to thank her for her directions and told her that I had found both items right where she said they would be. We struck up a conversation, and I told her I was on tour and invited her to the show that evening. The first thing she did was say, “Oh my, you must be hungry. You sit down right there.”
She disappeared in the back and came out with a plate of homemade Antelope enchiladas. Now, I’ve been fed some strange things in my time, but never anything like this. It turns out they were the best enchiladas I’ve ever had in my life. She declined my invitation to the show and told me that she had had a DWI and she was currently on probation and to be very careful of the police in the town. I told her I completely understood and left her with a copy of the new record, and went on my way.
When I got home, I got a friend request from her, and we became social media pals. It quickly became apparent that we occupied different sides of the political aisle, which was fine with me. I don’t care how people live their lives, and she had been amazingly kind to me, so that was the main thing as far as I was concerned. Over time, we had a few conversations, but more than anything, I saw her posts and browsed the comments. In one such thread, she had said how she was having a hard time staying sober and had been tempted so many times. It was apparent that part of her sobriety was based around her religious beliefs. At one point, she said, “I guess I’m just a born again sinner…” and that phrase hit me like a ton of bricks.
I couldn’t get the phrase out of my head. One night sitting with a guitar, the song came out of nowhere and the line “born again sinner” was the hook.
How do the song’s concepts fit into the overall narrative of your Evergreens EP?
Ironically, the song “Born Again Sinner” was supposed to be a completely different song. I had this idea of it being way more like Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream”. I was in Ojai, California, working with Jesse Siebenberg, and I had tracked the song on acoustic and laid down a couple of scratch vocal tracks, fully thinking that I’d be back to replace both with the final tracks later on down the road.
The way I had envisioned the song, it would have fit more into my overall vision of what the record was going to be, but I gave Jesse 100% control, so however he was going to do the song was fine with me. I learned the lesson long ago that I’m just the songwriter, and as producer, he’s the brains behind the operation. I was at a rehearsal when he sent me the rough mix of the song, so I put it up on the PA for everyone to hear.
When it played back, my first response was, “how in the world did he get this from what I had laid down back in January?” His email that contained the file had a message saying, “I went a little Blade Runner on this. Let me know if you don’t like it.” The guys in the band freaked out and said, “Sorry, man, this is way better than the version we’ve been doing.” So, there you have the genesis of the song.
What is the one big takeaway that you hope listeners get from “Born Again Sinner”? Or from the EP as a whole?
That’s a tough question, as even I am still getting used to the new arrangement of the song. It’s a very interesting thing to have a song you’ve come up with in your head turn out completely opposite of how you envisioned it and to have people tell you it’s better than your original vision.
As a whole, I really wanted the EP to be an extension of the Results Not Typical album. I think that some of these songs could have easily fit on that record. I’m trying to stay in the same ‘Americana lane’ that Results was in. I think the songs are a good representation of who I am and where I am right now as a songwriter. There’s a little bit of everything on this EP, and my main goal is to get people to dig in a little deeper to see what some of the other records offer. I know most people don’t listen to entire albums anymore, but a guy can dream.
It’s been a rough past year and a half, as your experiences supporting ‘Results Not Typical’ would attest. With that said, what are your hopes for the next year?
I certainly hope that we can get to a place where people are not afraid to go out to see live music. I know some folks are out there touring, but the shows I’ve played so far are pretty sparsely attended. Speaking with the venues’ staff, it’s pretty clear that folks aren’t quite ready to go full steam ahead, and I totally understand that.
I have put together a pretty great team behind the new EP and the Results record, and I’m hoping to add a national booking agent to round out the squad. Once we get past this winter, I’m hoping we can get out on the road and make it to some of the markets where the radio support has been strong. The band I’I’veut together for this project (The Livingroom Allstars) is nothing short of remarkable. I know that when we get a chance to go play the records live for people, we’ll get the recognition we’ve been working towards. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.