On the inside cover of singer-songwriter Kaiti Jones’ new record, VOWS, it reads:
Vow. a solemn promise or assertion; specifically: one by which a person is bound to an act, service, or condition.
As human beings, we take daily vows. With our relationships, our families, our beliefs, the stories we tell ourselves and others, and the characters and memories to which we give power – we are constantly taking vows with the things around us. For better, or for worse. I think this is a universal part of the story of humankind, a story I hope this collection of songs allows each of you to enter in some way. Thank you, dear friends, for your ears. May these stories leave you better, richer, fuller than you were before.
Since Jones was three, she has wielded a musical instrument. Jones mastered the viola in high school and dabbled on piano, french horn, and cello growing up. But it wasn’t until age 13, when Jones finally picked up a guitar, that she began making music on her own terms. It’s an electric guitar that Jones started writing on. She created distorted lo-fi rock songs with blaring power chords – an appropriate cure for teenage angst, or middle-school confusion. By the end of high school Jones had fallen into folk, more or less abandoning her rock roots.
In 2009, Jones recorded her first EP, Arise Child. It’s a dark, dreamy mix illustrating Jones’ ability to pull one into a story through lyrics heavily devoted to the deep regard she has for human connection. At the time, she was studying creative writing at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. There, she developed her songwriting through crafting personal essays and making music in various studios scattered across the city.
Jones’ next EP, Growing Things, came out four years later in 2013. The production value increased and her style became more distinct. The songs are tighter, simpler, and emphasize characteristics of some of Jones’ favorite writers: Flannery O’Connor’s visceral stories of hardship, faith, doubt, and praise; the way Wendell Berry connects human lives and the earth; and the sense of wonder and beauty found in the words of Madeleine L’Engle. Her songwriting echoes the traditions of Patty Griffin, Josh Ritter, Anais Mitchell, and Bob Dylan – people who, as Jones likes to say, “know how to tell a story.” The themes entwined in these artists’ works find their way into Jones’ music, where pain, love, and hope exist along a dusty windblown plane somewhere deep within.
On November 26th, 2017 – another four years later – Jones filled an intimate subterranean music venue with over one hundred people she knows and cares for, the very people who live at the roots of her songs. This was Jones’ first time headlining Club Passim (she sold it out nearly a month before the show), a legendary folk spot located down the street from her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her first full-length record, VOWS, dropped only a few days earlier and copies of it rested on the table in the front hall.
Jones’ vows are genuine. They live in her music, her deeply personal lyricism, and the commitment she has made to her community. The album itself took on another level of professionalism, showcasing the immense growth Jones has made as a songwriter, composer, producer and musician over the past eight years. For this project she was sought out by Golden Bear Records, an indie label in Des Moines, Iowa. Over two weeks in the studio in June, Jones and the folks at GBR made VOWS come to life. Now, go to the stereo in search of yourselves. In Jones’ words, may you feel “better, richer, fuller than before."