Next month, The Bones of J.R. Jones—the project of New York singer-songwriter and guitarist Jonathan Robert Linaberry—will release a new EP called A Celebration, which was largely inspired by the sprawling deserts of the Southwest. Today he shares the EP’s second single, premiering below, and it’s a wistful, weathered folk number about yearning to “Stay Wild.”
I don’t mind the night / and the dark it brings / to my skies, Linaberry croaks in the opening verse, his voice more ember than flame. Later, Linaberry sings like he’s praying, or like he’s trying to submit to something larger than himself: I want the tinny taste of love / across my teeth / I want to feast / I want to be / a storm raging / I want to believe / in the American Dream.
“It’s the perfect distillation of what I wanted the EP to feel like,” the Catskills musician tells American Songwriter of “Stay Wild.” “It set the precedent and tone for the rest of the songs. I really wanted to tap into the vastness of the desert, which can make you feel so small, but there’s a certain strange freedom that comes with that smallness, with that insignificance—you feel exposed and in a way that makes you more open to the unknown wildness all around you.”
“Stay Wild” also arrives with a video—directed by Joshua Zimmerman and choreographed by Jacqui DeFranca—that shows a scruffy, stick-wielding Linaberry dancing in the headlights of his pickup truck. The flick, featured below, is a visceral complement to the song.
“I wanted ‘Stay Wild’ to toe the line of realism and the fantastical,” says Linaberry. “It was important to me that it reflects on how the mundane parts of life can overflow and the only outlet would be an ungraceful somewhat ugly response. In the case of the video, it was a dance performed by someone who does not dance… Hopefully once you lose yourself in that moment something spectacular could happen.”
“The EP and the art that comes along with it really does reflect every aspect of this song for me,” he explains. “The prints, the designs, the songs, the melodies, the words… all of it was designed to reflect a restrained explosion or an appreciation of that explosion. I wanted to feel it in my chest, but not have it be so otherworldly that it was unrelatable. Everyone can fall into the monotony of their days and then at some point, there is a subtle pop, a change, something that makes you want to get lost, to live, to lose yourself to a whim. That’s what I was after with A Celebration.”
You can hear that profound, lose-yourself quality in every fiber of “Stay Wild.” Check it out below.
“Stay Wild” is out now. A Celebration arrives March 19.