Living up to her moniker as The Getaway Girl, Courtney Jones recently did something many East Coasters do: she fled to the sunnier shores of California. But it wasn’t without incident. Only one state away from her home in Virginia, Jones’ old Jeep Cherokee, which was lugging the singer/songwriter, her Yamaha mock grand piano and her acoustic guitar, beckoned for attention and started overheating. Trudging onward, a year ago she landed in Santa Cruz after, she recalls, “the welcoming committee at the border of California said, ‘Welcome to California—and just so you know, your car is shooting out black smoke!’” Along with that fixer-upper, the 24-year-old brought to town her songwriting skills she’d exercised in bands while living in North Carolina, a knack to play back anything she hears despite not knowing chords, and a determination to master the keys in original songs. And, like you’d suspect, she did so in perfect getaway form. “Once I moved out to California I was locking myself in my room for hours trying to figure out new chord progressions,” she says. The sweet result? Her solo musical project now greets listeners as a piano pop endeavor dripping in spacey ambiance and affecting lyrics that can bounce with a lighthearted bop or amble with languid fluidity reminiscent of Missy Higgins. Informed by her love of indie rock, Western nuances and ’60s pop that followed her through a cross-country journey during which she jotted down what bands she listened to in each part of the trek—Grizzly Bear in Big Sky Country, the Beatles in the Midwest—Jones’ Say it Through the Flowers EP gently cascades through four songs reflective of her new life. The last song, “Ocean” sings about a desire to live in a house by the ocean, a new welcome reality for the endearing songstress. “I think when I finally got out to California it was sort of like the light went on,” she says. “I felt like this might be a good place to camp out for awhile.” One Getaway Girl, it seems, is here to stay.
INFO: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10. Asana, 103 Lincoln St., Santa Cruz. Free. 425-8327. Myspace.com/thegetawaygirlrock.