I have always gravitated toward records that were grand and a bit overly ambitious. With "Swallow the Sea" I didn't want to go the route of the low-fi indie record. The title represents what I was going for. I also have to stay true to my roots. I'm a product of the 80's and my musical taste was shaped largely by bands like The Pixies, REM, U2, Echo and the Bunnymen and other underground bands of that time. It was the era of epic art-rock and smart pop. I ate it up. This record certainly nods to my influences without apology."
Ambition is evident in Matthew Perryman Jones' third record, but first proper release. From the sense of hope that swells from the darkness of the opening track to the epic reinterpretation of the spiritual, “Motherless Child” to the closing track’s two minute mantra, “Where can you go? Can you Swallow the Sea?”, this record is the sound of Jones simultaneously putting his neck on the line and shedding musical inhibitions, and finding his voice in doing so.
Regarding "Swallow the Sea" Jones confesses, "It seems I can’t get away from dealing with darker elements. The only way I can approach them, in my life and in my writing, is to approach them from a hopeful perspective. I think that’s apparent on this record. Otherwise, I think the inclination is to not want to address those things…not wanting to go there if you can’t see a way out.”
Jones was born near Philadelphia and relocated to Atlanta at the age of 11. As a teenager he fell in love with the bands of the nearby Athens, Georgia music scene, including R.E.M., and the likes of Guadalcanal Diary and Mary My Hope. He began writing songs in high school, where he also formed his first band, and was 15 when they recorded their first five-song demo (produced by Indigo Girls producer Don McCollister.)
By the mid-90s, he was fronting an Atlanta folk-rock band with steady gigs at the legendary Eddie’s Attic. As his own songwriting began to bloom and solo shows at Eddie’s followed, friends encouraged the burgeoning artist to pursue his music full-time. Before long, Jones had packed his things and was headed for Nashville. After relocating, Jones soon found a pocket of independent artists who quickly became his musical community. Touring and writing with these contemporaries has contributed to Jones' growth as an artist. In collaborating with local talents, he eventually became acquainted with producer Neilson Hubbard with whom he soon began working.
Swallow the Sea is Jones’ second consecutive album with Hubbard (Garrison Starr, Glen Phillips, Matthew Ryan). “With this record there was a bit of a struggle in that (musically) subtlety seems to be en vogue these days and I wanted to make a bigger record because those are the records I’ve always been into.” As he did on 2006’s Throwing Punches in the Dark, the disc finds Jones writing in a stream-of-consciousness manner, coming up with song ideas in a spur-of-the-moment fashion. “It’s kind of like getting in your car and driving around and seeing what you can find.”
“Save You” (co-written with Hubbard) was the first track on the record to garner attention via multiple television placements (Kyle XY, Private Practice) and resulted in an internet groundswell, as well as being the impetus for this new album. Jones’ strength as a writer is further showcased on this record from the aggressive pop of “Without a Clue” to the breezy “Amelia” and the quirky “When it Falls Apart”.