Five Questions With… Sean Jones
The former member of Juno winning In Essence today releases Take Me, a new solo album of original material steeped in classic soul. Here he discusses his artistic journey and one recent inspiring event.
By Jason Schneider
Since his days as a member of the Juno-winning group In Essence, Toronto’s Sean Jones has been a trailblazer within the Canadian soul and R&B scene. On his new solo album, Take Me—released June 22—Jones has crafted a classic sound that pays tribute to some of his primary influences such as Sam Cooke and Donny Hathaway, an outgrowth of his hugely successful Soul In The City summer concert series, set to kick off its fourth year in conjunction with the new album.
The other big inspiration for Take Me was the birth of Jones’ first child in 2017, which led him to write what became the album’s title track. As an expression of pure love and joy, “Take Me” encapsulates the overall message Jones wanted to convey on the album, whose other standout tracks include the infectious “Don’t Go Breakin’” and the powerful ballad “This Whole World.”
Soul In the City—sponsored by WestJet—takes place at Toronto’s historic Casa Loma every Monday night from now until August 27, giving audiences an opportunity to hear Jones and his band in a breathtaking outdoor setting.
It adds to the list of other prestigious venues Jones has played over the course of his career, including Carnegie Hall and London’s Trafalgar Square, where he has shared the stage with artists such as Beyonce, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and Usher. For more info, go to seanjones.tv
What makes Take Me stand apart from your previous work?
It’s been a while since I did an entire record of original music. No covers. I also finally got a chance to get in the studio with my band The Righteous Echo and record some tracks that we’ve been playing for a while now. Most importantly though is the fact that I decided to stay true to the original retro vibe that inspired the songs in the first place. Murray Daigle, who produced the record with me, made a conscious decision not to add a bunch of modern elements. There comes a point where you have to stop trying to please everyone.
What songs on the new album are you particularly proud of?
I’m extremely happy with the way “This Whole World” turned out. Such a beautiful record and I love the sentiment in the lyrics. My musical director Michael Shand did the horn arrangement. To hear it all come together is nothing short of magic to me.
I am also very proud of “Take Me.” It was the last song written for the album but the first song I wrote after the birth of my baby girl Savannah. Lyrically, that song touches on so many things in my life. It’s real on so many levels.
How would you describe your artistic evolution so far?
Musically I’ve always been all over the map. I’ve dabbled in rock, reggae, soul, folk, R&B… you name it and I might have a demo of it somewhere in the vaults. What has changed is my confidence in my creative and performance abilities. I’m not afraid to let people hear what Sean Jones sounds like. That’s a big change for me that’s taken years to get to.
What's been the most significant change in your life over the past year?
As I’ve said already, last year on October 24, my first child was born. She has changed my world for the better. I’m almost eight months in and I still wake up every morning absolutely amazed. She is living, breathing inspiration.
What song in your catalogue means the most to you and why?
At this point in my life, I’d have to mention “Take Me” again. It precisely represents where I’m at. Shout out to Murray Daigle and Donny Anderson who co-wrote that with me!