Queensland singer-songwriter Aspy Jones has taken the covers off his newest single; titled 'Mind Arrest' it finds Aspy exploring a rockier blues sound featuring impassioned lyrics.
The Brisbane-based musician first wrote 'Mind Arrest' as a teenager, the song detailing Aspy's struggles at that time with mental health and his personal journey living with autism.
"I'm sure I'm not the only one who had difficult teenage years," Aspy says. "The song is about wanting to escape how you're feeling, but you're trapped by your own emotions."
The first release of many in 2021 for Aspy, the artist who has performed at Gympie Music Muster and Tamworth Country Festival is ready to showcase the new direction his music has taken.
Here, he shares a number of songwriters who have inspired his own music making endeavours.
The first on my list, but by no means the weakest Ben Haggerty or Macklemore got me so hooked to his music. I had his debut album 'The Heist', which he co-produced with Ryan Lewis on loop.
Even though no other song he has released has passed the popularity of his breakthrough single 'Thrift Shop', I argue that his melodies, themes and messages only got better with his debut album 'The Heist' and then the follow-up album 'This Unruly Mess I've Made'.
He gave an amazing live performance at The Riverstage (Brisbane), and from the message of legalising same-sex marriages in 'Same Love' to alcohol abuse in 'Neon Cathedral', and the insane hype songs that are 'Can't Hold Us' and 'Victory Lap', he might not be the best rapper or the most iconic, but there is undeniable passion in everything he raps and sings about.
I can't tell you how many interviews of Sting's I've watched just trying to get every, little hint and clue of how he writes so many great songs, it's crazy. When it comes to writing for the love of writing this man is a master and it shows.
Since he started his solo career in 1983, he has released over 20 albums, the most recent of which was released 2019. That's insane, but I'm getting side-tracked.
One of the biggest reasons I love Sting's song writing is because he doesn't make his lyrics too cryptic. Most of the time you know, or you can figure it out by yourself, what he is singing about. From his adventures as a legal alien in 'Englishman In New York' to his weird encounters when he used to be a teacher in 'Don't Stand So Close To Me'.
He also works with his unusual style of singing and tone, rather than changing it to fit other people's interests which is something I find really admirable in any songwriter.
Another oldie, but a goodie and let me get this out of the way now. Billy Joel doesn't write songs, he writes stories with background music.
I have loved Billy Joel for what feels like eons. I play his vinyl. I play his songs on guitar and piano, and I have referenced him multiple times in my own originals simply because of how he writes and sings his songs. Though he is a bit more cryptic with his songs, the stories and the meaning behind the songs are still so strong.
I also find myself relating to him on a more personal level because of where he started out – playing covers in piano bars for money while people-watching and writing songs about the people at the bar, which is where the inspiration came from for songs like 'Piano Man'.
Honestly when it comes to songs that have a narrative there is no one better.
Funnily enough, this is the only artist on here that plays the same instrument as me for a majority of their songs.
Marcus Mumford if you haven't guessed is the lead singer and songwriter for the famous roots and folk band Mumford & Sons. Since their breakthrough single 'Little Lion Man' came out, I have loved these guys and the way they play music.
One of the things I have learnt from studying their music, is how to write great singing melodies and harmony structure in songs. Marcus is also the reason I use a stomp box when I am performing in a solo or duo environment. His use of simple percussion (gypsy pedal) and having the strumming pattern on the guitar add a layer of rhythm is fantastic.
Furthermore, when I saw them live it drove home to me just how much passion you can rely on when playing acoustically. Their performance is honestly one of, if not, the best performance I have seen from any band.
Though the chords on the guitar are simple, their songs and performances are a masterclass on how to make simple stuff sound amazing.
Now we come to the oldest one of the five, the undisputed king of individuality and doing what he wanted despite what others say or think. Now I am not gonna lie, I was not a massive fan of David Bowie when I was younger and would have probably preferred to listen to Queen.
However, I now realise how damn important David Bowie is to not just the music side of the arts but to creativity as a whole. David Bowie lived his musical life in so many genres with rock, pop, jazz, funk, folk and disco, the original genre-fluid artist.
One of the main things Bowie did so well was his strange, cryptic lyrics. He would actually write out his song lyrics and jumble them up.
What I have learnt from Bowie is far more than just music and song writing, it goes as deep as learning to love who you are and what you identify as because even though he was an outsider, he taught us that we should live the way we want to live and not be worried about what people think. There's a lesson for us all there!
Aspy Jones supports The Fabulous Caprettos at NightQuarter (Sunshine Coast) 13 June; he also supports Your Man Alex Smith at Woolly Mammoth (Brisbane) 18 June. Aspy Jones joins The Angels, The Screaming Jets, Diesel, Dragon and more as part of Music Is Life Festival at Biloela Showgrounds (Central Queensland) 9-10 July.