Austin Leonard Jones has been quite a long serving Texan musician, with his discography arching way back to 2010 when he released the lo-fi Superstitions.
In the past 12 years, Jones has done nothing but improve. The production is the best it has ever been on Dead Calm thanks to help from Jesse Woods, and the songwriting is also a lot more personal this time around. If you want proof of both, look no further than “Demon Sands.”
Instantly, the twangy electric guitar sounds that kick the track off have a very rich sound to them. Not in terms of production budget, but more in terms of their feeling. It’s definitely a warm track, especially when the soft acoustic guitar joins the electric. It’s gentle, it’s fuzzy, and it sounds intimate.
Jones then enters the track to deliver a heartfelt verse, reminiscing of the days when “Jerry” was still with us, sitting by the lake in his mountain-top hotel. Leonard Jones knows how to give the audience a vivid image, and this track is a masterclass in doing just that.
As the track goes on, we get more images described to us, such as “moonlight on a private lawn.” This lyric in particular gives off a subtly melancholic connotation, and with the subtext of his previous lyric, it starts to unravel how our protagonist is feeling. Those feelings of melancholy and loneliness are confirmed as the Texan singer rolls into the chorus. Musically, not much changes except for a very gentle tapping of the hi-hat. It changes things up sonically just a little bit, but makes all the difference.
Lyrically, the tone goes from melancholic to oddly optimistic, as Jones seems to be inviting the audience to visit the titular Demon Sands. Here, we are meant to feel that all our worries will come and go, much like the people we have come to know. It’s about moving on and having a safe place to be when that moment comes, which I think is really sweet.
After a beautiful acoustic guitar solo, the song comes to an early end. While I wish there was a second verse, I found that the short runtime actually added to the song’s sweetness. Like a little kid quickly yanking you on the arm and saying that everything will be okay, then quickly departing. Safe to say, a lot of emotions can be conveyed in 2 minutes.