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All Songs Considered Blog
Thu May 10, 2012
Justin Jones, 'Miracles': Snake Oil Versus Salvation
Justin Jones is a local D.C. talent. I've seen him a number of times often as an opening act. I've enjoyed his music but it wasn't until this new record that I went "WOW!" Jones has just finished a powerfully magnificent Americana album called Fading Light. This song, "Miracles" opens with over a minute of hypnotic rock that — if it wasn't played so well and recorded so well — would fit comfortably on a Velvet Underground record. But the rest of the song is good strong radio-friendly rock 'n' roll and I'm curious to see a D.C. native make it to airwaves.
The video for "Miracles" is one part handmade science fiction and one part familial drama. A shady-looking scientist sells supposed miracles on TV. A family clashes over whether they should turn to this less-than-credible fellow to try to help their daughter (his miracle device looks like it's 95 percent wires, so the husband has a right to be skeptical). What seems to be shameless hucksterism turns out to be the real deal and video ends with a moment of quiet calm. After all the bouncing around and the fun, the quick transition to stillness brings out the aftereffect of the miracle and makes it resonate emotionally.
In an email, Jones described his thoughts on writing "Miracles":
"Miracles" was written about that feeling I get when I think about how vast the universe is and how crushing that can feel. We're all running around thinking we have "important" things to do and we're just these tiny creatures on this tiny rock. And we're destroying that rock, and we don't really seem to care.
The video's concept was thought up by director George Burroughs and producer Matt Chenet. Basically I'm selling snake oil, want some?
Chenet wrote in about trying to connect the visuals to the feeling of "Miracles":
We've been fans of Justin's music since we were first introduced a few years back, and we've worked together on a handful of projects since. For the "Miracles" video, we wanted to produce something that complemented the high energy and production value of the song, but also captured the conflicting emotion of the lyric. Much of Justin's music seems to walk the line somewhere between heartache and despair on the one end, and hope and resolution on the other. We felt it was important for the video to reflect that conflict, both in the overall aesthetic and the story itself.
Justin responded to the 'Salesman' idea early on, and from that point, George came up with the story of our conflicted family in search of a Miracle. After reading the treatment, Justin suggested asking his friends, the Hobens, to play our family, and fortunately for us — they agreed. We were all surprised with how naturally Justin, Kylie and Ruby Hoben took to their roles and played them with the understated style of experienced actors. Once we walked through the first few shots on set with our full cast — we knew we had something cool.
We built our sets in an empty row house rented by the 930 club, so that we could create the feel we wanted from the ground up and control every aspect of the shoot.
Justin Jones' new album, Fading Light, is out now.