‘Real country music is laying there on the floor with a bottle of Jack Daniels because another woman has walked across your heart, like a Samoan man in golf shoes.’
That quote comes from comedian Rich Hall’s stand-up show ‘Hell No I Ain’t Happy.’ At this point in the show he is playing the part of country singer Otis Lee Crenshaw, and he vents his frustration about the current state of country music. Now, this quote may not come from the most academic of sources but it holds a lot of weight, because when done well country music has a way of moving you that is very hard to find anywhere else. And what I have in my hands ladies and gentlemen is a country-style album done very very well.
I am of course talking about the debut album from singer/songwriter Jackson Jones. I hate putting labels on things, so that’s why I say country-style; you can call it Americana, country, acoustic or whatever you want, but to me good music is good music, and this is good music.
The opening track ‘Nothing Changes,’ gets into the mind of a soldier who is looking around at the world and wondering whether it is all worth it, because nothing changes. And this track and the one that follow it ‘Put The Money In The Bag,’ showcase early on what the album is all about. The songs tell stories. Stories about real situations; with real emotion. How can this not touch you? These tracks as well as a couple of others are very much Johnny Cash-esque in style. I don’t know if Mr Jones is a fan but for me there are definitely similarities there, especially when you listen to Cash’s later work like the American Recordings album. It is one man and a guitar singing and telling stories.
The next song finds Jackson is reflective mood, this time about his Father. This ode to his father ‘Jack’ really struck a chord with me as I can really appreciate the story in the song; a Black Country man who worked hard but still found time to give his all for his family. In this part of the world there were many like him, and as a Black Country man myself with relatives who were just the same as Jack I can really appreciate this track.
‘Turn Back Time’ tells you to follow your heart; acoustic guitar notes sprinkled in the background. And while the album winds towards a conclusion we reminisce about younger and at times simpler days, while warning that looking over the past is not always easy or good for you, until we get to the final track. ‘If You Love Me’ is as the title suggests is a love song and a fine way to round off the record. The heartfelt lyrics and gentle melody will make a believer out even the most cynical of people. There is hope for all of us.