Review: Far From Saints…Far From Stellar?

Last December, I commended Stereophonics, a Welsh band led by singer-songwriter Kelly Jones, and their acclaimed inaugural album, 1997’s Word Gets Around. Now, there’s a new project from Jones…and it’s definitely not what you’d expect.

The ‘Phonics as they remain as of 2017; Kelly Jones being third from left.

While the band has been going strong for decades now, Jones isn’t afraid to step out on his own every once in a while. In 2007, he released a “limited edition” debut solo album, Only the Names Have Been Changed, and in 2020, released Don’t Let the Devil Take Another Daya documentary about his vocal surgery rehabilitation that spawned a live album of the same name; mostly acoustic versions of Stereophonics tunes.

While embarking on a 2019 solo tour, Jones enlisted American band The Wind + The Wave to open for him. They had previously worked together, but a press release states that “this time the musical magnetism was too strong not to explore.”

The Wind + The Wave, which began in 2013, consists of friends Patricia Lynn, known for her work in indie band The Soldier Thread, and Dwight Baker, who had previously worked alongside Brandi Carlile and Blue October. On December 30, 2022, they released their 5th studio album, Racing Hearts.

Credit: Lilly Lilova (2020)

The Wind + The Wave in 2020; photo by Lilly Lilova.

“I’d watch them from the side of the stage and I knew that our voices would work very well together,”  Kelly says. “There was never a project planned. One night, Patty and Dwight walked off stage and I said, ‘We’ve got to do something together.’ The next day we sang something in a dressing room and it just formed from there. We booked two recording sessions, one at the end of each leg of the tour, and we did [a] whole album in nine days.”

The new group is called Far From Saints and they have announced an album of the same name to be released on June 16, 2023. The trio has promoted the album by releasing two singles: “Let’s Turn This Back Around” and “Take It Through The Night”.

Kelly Jones and Patty Lynn as photographed by Sophia French.

Far From Saints should be very off-putting for any fan of Stereophonics. There is a strong country, Americana focus, both in composition and songwriting, similar to the style The Killers have adapted in recent years (which I absolutely loathe). However, it’s a bit different, as Far From Saints doesn’t differ vastly from the sound of The Wind + The Wave. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s clear that they are trying to achieve something different within the sound that’s come to be expected.

“Let’s Turn This Back Around” was the first to be released and it’s grown on me quite a bit. It’s slow, acoustic, and further supports Jones’ claim of the two singers’ voices working well together. It’s produced very well and doesn’t sound too big or too small. Subtle percussive elements create a lovely backdrop for the vocals. I’ve said quite a few times that Jones ranks high in my favorite lyricists of all time, and he, along with The Wind + The Wave, are the only credited songwriters, though I’m not hearing that magic I’ve come to expect. There is one line though, buried in the back half of the song, “my heart is tinder for your lawn bonfire,” that is absolutely beautiful.

It’s a different story all together for “Take It Through The Night” which starts off rough. Lynn’s vocal sounds great, but the instrumentation sounds like someone bought a country rock song off Fiverr. Funnily enough, there’s a strong similarity to “Fade In-Out” from Oasis’ 1997 album Be Here Now, and even though Noel Gallagher and Kelly Jones remain good friends, I’ll chock that one up to coincidence. Once we get past the verses though, “Take It Through The Night” attempts to redeem itself with a strong pre-chorus and chorus, even picking up a cool orchestral aspect as the song progresses.


♬ original sound – Far From Saints

It will be interesting to see how the Far From Saints sound evolves over the course of a full record. While I’m not yet completely sold, I will be listening and hope to be impressed on June 16th. “It’s an album and it’s meant to be listened to from start to finish. That’s what I’d like for people to do,” Patty says. “Listen to the whole thing and see it as a complete work on its own.”

You can pre-order/pre-save here.

“Let’s Turn This Back Around”

Final Review: ★★★.5/5

“Take It Through The Night”

Final Review: ★★/5

Writer’s Highlights: Let’s Turn This Back Around (Official Video), Mr. Writer (Don’t Let The Devil Take Another Day Version)