Poor Boy's Soul is Trever Jones, who makes bone-rattling acoustic stomp music for those pissed off and left behind. Songs on Outlaw Blues such as opener "Burn Down This Old House" or "Movin' To The City" are caught up in the currents of fate and myth; gratifications and torments of the flesh; today's news and tomorrow's final reckoning. It is the perfect drinking music for a sobering nation, full of kick drum, tambourine, and the chattering riffs of an old National guitar.
This is no bullshit stripped down rock, made to look fans in the eyes and not relent, whilst enjoying a whiskey, created by a guy who loves underground hip hop, Woody, and Son House, and doesn't like to talk to cops. "When I was 10 years old I got my first guitar and that is when I really knew that I wanted to be a musician," Jones says. "At first I played metal and thrash, then on to punk. When I was nineteen I started traveling around the country hitching and riding trains. So I bought a cheap acoustic and started learning folk, bluegrass and blues from folks on the road. That's when I started developing the style of music I play now."
Poor Boy's Soul officially started in 2008, when Jones was winding down Portland band Biketramp. "The name Poor Boy's Soul comes form a line in an old time song called 'Wild Bill Jones,'" Trevor says. "In the song a fella is defending himself and his girl from Wild Bill and he 'pulls out his gun and destroys that poor boy's soul.' And I just love that line." When he took his second album Everything I Had out on tour, he'd made the decision to go one man band. "I want to reach as many people that I can with my music and keep doing it till I get too old to hold my guitar. And of course make a bit of dough doing it! I don't want to be a rock star," he says. One listen to the festival-filling blues-punk come-on overflow of "54 Ways" though, it sounds like it's going to happen anyways.
Jones finds inspiration in gaunt blues shaman Mississippi Fred McDowell in rants like "You Gotta Move." Keeping his rocking spare like the original bluesmen, just his nimble grind on the six strings, spasms of laughter and disgust in concert with his fellow wayfaring souls. "That's when I finally learned how to yell!" he sings ("Nails In The Pines"). His clap and rasp-along rockers have the barest whiff of Waits, because it seems as though Jones is more like a character in one of the down-bound train songs the king of the sad noise is growling about. Jones music is without kitsch, much bar-room sentimentality, or layers of sound affects.
The new release ends on the lovely, terrifying rant "Annalisa": "You're stronger than those demons in your head," he sings. "That is the most different song on the album. It is also the most intimate song too. It is about my sister. She has had a lot of road blocks thrown up in front of her over the years. She has risen above so much and the song is for her and about her. I really feel that lyrically it is one of the best songs I have ever written. It is really a song that comes from my heart, straight to a person that I care for dearly. And I want her to live a better life than the one she was given.
"Songwriting for me is many different things," Jones continues. "Sometimes it's a release. When I need to get something off my chest or I am just so overwhelmed with life. So I pick up my guitar and let it come out." "Annalisa" shows a singer-songwriter as deft as Springsteen, but with many more butterfly knife-sharp poetic details in the wide-open lyrics.
"I am inspired by a little voice in my head that tells me to keep going and to get these words and songs out of my skull. And if I stop I would most likely go crazy. The process of making and performing music seems to me to be like breathing," he says. He also loves reading books on history, and telling from the topical insouciance of his lyrics (and his love for Dead Prez's "Let's Get Free"), has a thing or two to say about politics.
"I think that it is very important to keep politics in music and for artists of all types to challenge the norms of society," Jones says. "Music that moves me challenges me to think of the world in another way. My favorite musicians are all revolutionaries. We live in a world full of isolation and selfishness. I believe it is our job as artist to pull people out of the modern-techno make-believe world: Facebook, Twitter, and Google news."
For many years Trever Jones was a farmer in southern Oregon on a small scale organic farm. That may be why his music sounds like it's made by someone who's gotten his hands as dirty as his honest thoughts. "Well, I recorded and released my own album because that is the only way I know how to do it. I have no record deal and didn't want to wait around for somebody to tell me it was time for me to record. I never wait for people to tell me it is time to do anything." He knew he could produce a great album and he did just that.