FL Jones’s story is one of funk and perseverance, of staying true to the music of his passion and roots in defiance of fashion or trends. Jones is a soul man who can do it all–sing, write and perform–and his gift for melody is at the forefront of his appeal. On his new album, Becoming Myself, Jones fuses his love of the golden age of soul with an infectiously modern luster that goes straight to the heart.

From the time he was five years old and sang for his father’s friends at the local barbershop, music has been the focal point of Jones’s life. Influenced by the greats of soul–Stevie Wonder, Donnie Hathaway, Parliament-Funkadelic, Aretha Franklin and Prince, Jones may have grown up in the age of hip-hop, but his heart has always belonged to the era of R&B bands, when performers had to “bring it” onstage every night.

Jones has honed his craft in clubs and theaters, discovering every way possible to entertain and make an audience groove. Moving to New York, he found that the challenges of the city brought out his best. In fact, six months after arriving here, he landed a leading role in the Australian company of the legendary musical, “Rent.” The production was a sensation in Australia, and led to FL’s performances on Australian morning television, singing in front of millions, as well as a Rolling Stone Australia interview and photo shoot.

Returning to the U.S., FL performed in a national tour of “Rent,” and then began playing live extensively in New York at such venues as the Jazz Standard, Le Bar Bat, the Bitter End and the Cutting Room. He also scored the feature film, “200 American” and served as a composer and music supervisor on the films “Whirlwind” and “Raw Moves”.

But it has always been FL’s dream to make his own album, and about two years ago, in the midst of all of his other projects, he began writing and demoing songs, working with Michael Levey, a former member of FL’s band. “We worked really well together,” says FL. “I would do an arrangement of a song at home, and then he’d bring his own flavor to it. Some songs Michael had a beat or a melody, and then I’d write around it. Some of the songs evolved over time, and others like ‘Living By The Funk,’ well, we literally did that in a couple of minutes.”

You can hear that mixture of craft and inspiration on his album Becoming Myself. On songs like “Hey Friend,” Jones includes so many delightful touches–churchy handclaps, a slithering bass line, and staccato piano–along with his effortlessly infectious vocals. The effect is almost hypnotizing. It’s music that works on two levels: one of sheer sonic pleasure; and the other where one is impressed by the detail and incisiveness of the lyrics. Jones says that the songs aren’t about the production, but he’s being modest since the production updates the feeling of old school soul while grounding it firmly in the modern world.

“I Choose You” throbs with a disco beat that’s fully modernized. The groove is propulsive, with shredding guitar and a feverish vibe that builds the tension, dripping with a sensuality that is embedded in the notes. The title track Becoming Myself, shows off FL’s tender side, a ballad that is a statement of intent of how he wants to be his authentic self, all the while acknowledging the universal challenges we face in the pursuit of the ultimate fulfillment of love.

As a solo artist playing with his band, FL is trying to, as he says, “bring back the whole R&B band thing,” saying the following about Becoming Myself, “Usually, I like the ‘B-sides’ of most albums, but I made a conscious decision to make an accessible pop record while still remaining true to who I am. By doing that, I think it sounds commercial, but it’s still FL Jones.” Since the release FL has been approached by several DJ’s and Producers for collaboration, including Ethan White from Tortured Soul, Freedom Williams from C&C Music Factory, and House music producer M-sol. FL Jones is taking the soul tradition and pushing it forward, with a great new album, a commitment to pursue a bigger audience, and the intent to redefine what is considered to be modern soul music.