Vade Mecum translates from Latin as “go with me.” When Glenn Jones makes such an offer, anyone who appreciates a vivid musical trip shouldn’t think twice. The 68-year-old guitar and banjo player from Cambridge, Massachusetts, began working as a solo acoustic musician in the early 2000s, after spending years playing with surf-meets-experimental-rock combo Cul de Sac, coproducing and compiling folk records, and befriending and assisting the original Takoma Records guitarists, John Fahey and Robbie Basho. Like them, he composes tunes that combine folk and blues forms with devices learned from other styles, and he prioritizes the expression of emotional truths over displays of technical facility. On this latest LP, Jones uses rich sonorities derived from idiosyncratic tunings as inspirational springboards for intricate, unhurried excursions that reference places, pets, and old friends. Many of them are now gone, and Jones’s melodies persuasively evoke his sadness at having lost them as well as his joy at having known them in the first place. But some of those friends are still with us: on “Ruthie’s Farewell,” whose title nods to the old friend who gave him his first banjo when she moved away and couldn’t pack it, Jones reunites on record for the first time in three decades with fiddler Ruthie Dornfeld, who played on the debut Cul de Sac record.
Glenn Jones’s Vade Mecum is out 6/24 via Bandcamp.