If you dig back far enough, way down in the mine, past the bros and the badonkadonks, before the Outlaws, behind the countrypolitan curtain, underneath Hank William’s Cadillac, but somewhere over Clinch Mountain– you’ll find the heart of country music. Now, that heart continues to pump– but sometimes it’s as if you have to put your ear to the dirt or cold steel rail, close your eyes and listen with dedication just to hear a faint “buh-bump.” Other times the radio senses your longing and frustration and gives you a Jason Eady.
Jason Eady grew up in Jackson, Mississippi surrounded by blues and country music. He headed to Texas in 2002 after serving in the Air Force and running classified missions in the Middle East. Legend has it that Eady’s the only songwriter in country music who speaks Arabic! He’d become a fan of Steve Earle after a show in England, and from there found the music of Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt– all songwriters who’d use the simplest lines to create the strongest narratives. Jason combined the poetry of Texas songwriters with the cleanly crafted music of Merle Haggard and began to find his own words in the open mics around Ft Worth.
In 2012, Eady released AM Country Heaven– a scathing look at contemporary country music radio featuring songwriter/producer Kevin Welch, the pedal steel of Lloyd Maines and “Mr. Honky Tonk Piano”, Earle Poole Ball. 2014’s Daylight/Dark straddled the divide between concept album and confessional while winning over contemporaries and critics. The latest self-titled release from Jason Eady continues the focus on songs without excess that don’t require ballast– songs with heartbeat rhythms and deliberate themes.
Country music exists to be accessible, but it should also be crafted to endure. There’s a great deal of contempt associated with country music radio today– but where does the fault land? In the accounts of label executives who keep cookie cutters in their desk drawers? Beneath the heels of the endless parade of shadow-bearded cowboys who grew up listening to hair-metal and hip-hop instead of Tom T Hall and Kris Kristofferson? In the auto-tuned border-line karaoke quality of material being released by the chanteuse-of-the-month?
The majority of physical music in America is purchased in banal big-box sheds ending in mart that only stock units– not artists. By contrast, the internet provides access to more songs and bands than you could ever experience on more platforms than you would ever fit on a preferred device– 99.9 % of which is subject to taste at best and flat out unlistenable at worst. So, what’s a country music fan to do?
Close your eyes and actually listen– it’s there for you to hear…