There’s a lot of people in the know in the US Country Music scene who are tipping Jason James to be huge with the waves created by his self-titled debut album rippling out from Nashville and across the globe.
The talented Texan writes rousing honky-tonk anthems, heart-tugging ballads and smart, sly-humoured country-rock tunes that echo of vintage classics delivered with a level of emotion that makes it clear that he means every word, whether he’s belting out a sly, infectious honky-tonk tune or ringing the heartache out of an aching ballad.
New West Records president John Allen was so impressed with the results of James’ initial recording sessions, and so convinced of the artist’s potential, that he arranged additional recording dates in Nashville with noted studio vet Keith Gattis (Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam) and a studio band that included bassist Dave Roe, known for his work with Johnny Cash and Dwight Yoakam; fiddler Glen Duncan, whose extensive resume includes recordings with the likes of George Jones, Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton; and pedal steel player Steve Hinson, a veteran of Randy Travis’ band.
Although this is his debut album Jason is a young but grizzled music veteran with a past encompassing musical efforts in the alt-hard rock vein and a stint fronting a punk-influenced band in his early teens. “I had completely forgotten about country music,” James recalls, “But one day I went over to my dad’s house, and he was playing some old Hank Williams stuff. It was a revelation to me, and suddenly I was hearing it in a different way. It was the song ‘Alone and Forsaken’ that really got me,” he adds. “The depth of the heartbreak in that song, and how real it was, just spoke to me, and suddenly everything I’d done before didn’t matter to me anymore. Country was what I wanted to do.
“For me, country had the same appeal that punk rock originally had,” he continues. “It was emotion expressed in a simple way, with sparse, direct lyrics that go straight for the emotional jugular. I started writing country songs and never looked back.”
Jason James – remember the name. He’s a rising star equally adept at delivering heartbreak and humour, maintaining an earthy, organic honesty that stands in sharp contrast to the slick, gimmicky product that currently dominates the country charts.