On his last two albums, Jason Eady earned major acclaim for his ahead-of-the-curve take on classic country, a bold departure from his earlier excursions into blues-infused Americana. Now with his sixth album, the Mississippi-bred singer/guitarist merges his distinct sensibilities into a stripped-down, roots-oriented sound that starkly showcases the gritty elegance of his songwriting.
The follow-up to 2014’s critically praised Daylight/Dark—an album that “belongs on a shelf next to Dwight Yoakam’s Buenos Noches from a Lonely Room, Joe Ely’s Letter to Laredo, and yes, even Willie Nelson’s Phases and Stages,” according to AllMusic—Eady’s latest finds the Fort Worth, Texas-based artist again teaming up with producer Kevin Welch. Now longtime collaborators (with their past efforts including 2012’s AM Country Heaven, a top 40 debut on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart), Eady and Welch worked closely in crafting the album’s acoustic-driven yet lushly textured aesthetic. “At the beginning I told everyone I wanted to make a record where, if the power went out, we could still sit down and play all the songs the exact same way,” says Eady, who points out that steel guitar is the only electric instrument featured on the album.
Despite its subtle approach, the album radiates a warm vitality that’s got much to do with Eady’s gift for nuanced yet unaffected slice-of-life storytelling. “I’ve always been drawn to writing that’s got a simplicity to it, where you’re digging deep into real day-to-day life,” he notes. Here, that means touching on such matters as turning 40 (on the reflective, soul-stirring “40 Years”), his daughter’s growing up and going off to college (on the sweetly heartbreaking “Not Too Loud”), and the everyday struggle to “embrace the messy parts of life instead of trying to get the point where you’ve somehow fixed all your problems” (on “Rain,” a joyfully determined anthem featuring SteelDrivers fiddler Tammy Rogers). Throughout the album, Eady’s soulfully rugged voice blends in beautiful harmonies with his wife, singer/songwriter Courtney Patton. And on “No Genie in This Bottle,” the legendary Vince Gill lends his singular vocals to what Eady refers to as a “good old country drinking song.”
In each track, Eady reveals a sharp sense of songcraft he’s honed since childhood. “Even back in my early days of getting into music, I always cared more about the writers than the singers,” says Eady, who grew up in Jackson. “I’d look up who’d written a certain song, and then go seek out more songs from that writer.” At age 14—the same year he started writing his own material—Eady began performing in local bars and showing his natural grasp of everything from soul and R&B to blues and country. After some time in the Air Force, he moved to Fort Worth and started playing open mic nights, where he quickly built up a devoted following. By 2005, Eady had made his debut with the independently released From Underneath The Old.
For Eady—who names Merle Haggard, Guy Clark, and Willie Nelson among his main inspirations—instilling each song with so much graceful honesty proved to be his greatest achievement and thrill in creating the new album. “When you first get started making music, your ideas are grandiose and more about the big picture. But the longer I’ve done this, the more I’ve realized that the real joy comes from the process rather than the end goal,” he says. “Now it’s about getting better and finding more of myself with every album. So instead of writing what I think people want to hear, I’m writing what I want to write and trusting that—as long as it’s coming from an honest place—it’ll hopefully mean something to the people listening too.”
Courtney Patton has spent the last few years building her lifelong passion into a real career. Touring steadily, writing constantly, and singing her heart out onstage and on record, she’s become a welcome discovery for listeners who’ve found their way to her sweet and soulful take on classic country music. Her first full-length record, Triggering A Flood, was released in May 2013 to regional acclaim and her 2015 follow-up So This Is Life is poised to make an even larger splash as her audience has expanded to corners all around the world. Her expansive voice, laced with deep Texas twang but bearing the influence of favorite songwriters from the ‘70s folk-rock scene all the way through the present day, gives new life to old themes of finding love and freedom where you can and trying to hold yourself together when it slips away. Since the release of Triggering A Flood, her music has taken her on tours through Europe and Canada as well as across the United States; she’s also toured and recorded with Jason Eady, a fellow keeper of the real-country-music flame that Patton wed in 2014. She’s also shared the stage with leading lights of the country-folk genre including Walt Wilkins, Bruce Robison, Jamie Lin Wilson, and Drew Kennedy, the latter of whom served as producer on So This Is Life. Indebted to the subtle depths of her favorite late-‘70s Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard records, it’s a perfect frame for Patton’s lyrical snapshots of heartache, longing, and love.
"I suppose realism is what I look for in new music. I want to believe a new song. That happens when I hear Courtney's music. Her voice is rich and unique and that's something that's been a dormant quality in the "woman's world" of country music for a long, long time!" - Adam Hood
"Over the years I've watched CP grow into a singer/songwriter to be reckoned with. Top shelf." - Mike McClure
“Courtney Patton is one of the most talented singers around. You can literally hang on to her words, almost … she knows how to hold that note until it blooms, sing one word and make it feel like ten. She’s got her own gravity and she uses it beautifully.” – Mike Ethan Messick
“When I hear Courtney I hear something absolutely unique that makes me think of the legendary voices of music … she makes you both forget and remember how many descriptive words you know.” – Drew Kennedy
“It’s Courtney’s turn, and I’m so proud that everyone’s getting to see what’s so special about her. She makes people feel what she’s feeling, and that’s a talent, not a skill.” – Jamie Lin Wilson
Adam Hood's third full-length album The Shape Of Things is an arresting collection of music that celebrates the beauty of life's everyday struggles. From the captivating opener and previous single "Hell Of A Fight" to the closing fade of the autobiographical "I'll Sing About Mine," Hood captures a white-hot passion to create pure art that honors Southern culture and sets it to music.
Hood worked for two years with Carnival Music, a company headed by the CMA Award-winning Frank Liddell, to build what would become the Oct. 2011 release. Produced by Oran Thornton and Matthew Miller, The Shape Of Things is arguably one of Adam's most groundbreaking records to date. The album earned Adam his first Lonestar Music Award for Singer-Songwriter/Folk Album of The Year in April, 2012. The Lonestar Music Awards also listed Adam in four other categories including Best Male Vocal; a huge feat for any non-Texas artist. The Boston Globe named Adam among its elite "12 Musical Acts To Look For In 2012." Brian Keane took "I'll Sing About Mine" to the apex of the Texas Music Chart in summer 2011, and David Nail recorded The Shape Of Things' "Grandpa's Farm" for his own Sound Of A Million Dreams. Little Big Town also cut "Front Porch Thang" for their follow-up to The Reason Why, and premiered the track to a spirited sold-out crowd during their two-song set at Keith Urban's All For The Hall concert in April, 2012.
But it was Adam's hard work on the road throughout Texas and the Southeast that laid the foundation for his current success, as well as a chance encounter with Miranda Lambert, who became an instant fan after catching Adam's set at New Braunfels' Tavern On The Gruene in fall 2007. Miranda was traveling through town with her mother Bev when their car broke down, and while waiting for a hotel vacancy, the pair ended up at the Texas music hall where Adam was plugging 2007's Different Groove on Ray Wylie Hubbard's KNBT radio show. Impressed by Adam's stirring vocals and sharp wit, Miranda called Adam within two weeks with an invitation to perform at her birthday party where he would meet producer Frank Liddell, whose production credits include the Academy of Country Music's current Album of the Year Four The Record by Miranda and Lee Ann Womack's I Hope You Dance.
Liddell then signed Adam to his publishing company Carnival Music in January 2008. At the time, Adam was performing 300+ shows a year promoting Different Groove, and was engaged in a three-year, nationwide tour with Leon Russell. "I went everywhere with Leon," Adam recalls. "We played all kinds of cool places like the Whiskey A Go Go in Hollywood, and I learned a lot about how to entertain a crowd by myself. It was good for me too because he's kept consistent fans for 30 years."
Amid the heavy tour schedule, Adam remained based out of his hometown Opelika, AL, tearing up Interstate 65 for songwriting appointments in Nashville where he would collaborate with celebrated songwriters including Chris Stapleton and Pistol Annies' Ashley Monroe. By summer 2011, Adam landed a slot on the Country Throwdown tour, sharing the bill with the fellow Alabaman Jamey Johnson and the legendary Willie Nelson, and he sold the Adam Hood EP as a taste of what was to come.
In fall 2011, Carnival released the pulsating "Flame And Gasoline" as The Shape Of Things' lead single, which was co-written with Jason Saenz. "I always joke about how it's kind of like a redneck romance," Adam says. "You see this couple go through the push and pull and tug of war that's falling in love. They're just trying to figure it out."
The next single released "Hell Of A Fight" was written with Ashley Monroe on a rainy Nashville afternoon after they each turned new leaves in their respective careers. "Every artist asks themselves, 'What am I doing?'" Adam admits. "We wrote it while we were both coming out of bad times. But we were coming out of them. It wasn't intended to be sad. Honestly, I couldn't have picked a better opening song."
Next in the album's sequencing is the lazy and mystifying "Granpa's Farm" about a summer love between a city slicker woman and a country boy. "Tennessee Will" pays homage to all the miles Adam logged driving through Alabama to establish himself in Nashville. "On my way to Nashville, I cross the Tennessee River all the time," Adam says. "While I didn't have much to say about the Mississippi River, I wanted to create something that hit close to home as a Southerner."
The title track helped Adam through a tumultuous time when he questioned his craft while re-acclimating himself to life off the road after years of touring heavily. "That's really the only song I'd written completely by myself," he says. "It was frustrating because I felt I had to relearn things I thought I already knew. There were some personal things going on with me, and it was a good 'head up' song. It felt like changing horses mid-stream."
Adam also pays homage to one of his favorite rock bands The Rolling Stones on "Gonna Take A Woman." "We recorded this around the time they reissued Exile On Main Street, and I dove into that record," Adam says. "The Stones are not only students of American music, but they are students of Southern music, and they nailed it. When we were going over the guitar/vocal, drummer Fred Eltringham suggested Bob Seger's 'Night Moves' for the groove. I said, 'No, 'Tumbling Dice.'" Adam's admiration for the Stones continues on "Deep Ellum Blues," which he wrote with Will Kimbrough. "You can't listen to the Stones without hearing Chuck Berry," Adam says. "Half of their covers were Chuck Berry songs. So, I wanted to write a tip of the hat to him, and Will was the perfect guy to do this with because we're both Alabama guys who come from the same musical headspace."
For "Front Porch Thang," Adam collaborated with soulful vocalist and lyricist Chris Stapleton to glorify the simplicity of falling in love to the sounds of a summer night in the country. "It was very intimidating because it's mesmerizing to watch Chris sing," Adam says. "He's so effortless. There's nothing contrived at all, and he's not trying to sing that way. It just pours out of his mouth."
Written with Mando Saenz, "Moving Mountains" gave Adam the luxury of expressing his feelings without fear of harming someone close to him, and in "Once They're Gone," Adam delivers the powerful message to take time to be with loved ones because the uncertainty of life can take them away forever in an instant.
Closing the collection is the Brian Keane-co-written track "I'll Sing About Mine," which is a look at small town living that inspires the hits on Top 40 Country radio. "Most of the songs on mainstream country radio are by the most prolific songwriters in the format," Adam says. "So, the idea behind 'I'll Sing About Mine,' was not to piss anybody off because when you set out to do that, it never works out. But there was a time when I couldn't relate to a lot of the country songs on the radio. For someone who was born and raised on country music, that was a problem for me."
Now a successful songwriter and an Alabaman with a devout Texas following, Adam says he never dreamed of being an artist. "I never realized it was possible because I'm from a small town," he says. "But I've always been the kind of guy who puts the cart before the horse, and I spent most of my 20s forcing things to happen. Honestly, that's why it's taken me so long to get here. But timing's everything."
Jamie Lin Wilson
When describing Jamie Wilson's voice, two aspects come to mind: that honeyed tenor twang that's become known as one of the sweetest instruments in modern folk music, and that poignant, poetic, down-to-earth point of view she brings to her songwriting. The spotlight shines brighter than ever on both with Holidays & Wedding Rings, her May 2015 release. Even fans may be surprised to realize it’s the first full-length solo album from one of brightest and busiest stars in her recent years amid the folk/Americana/independent country music scene.
An artist of singular talent and restless creativity, she broke into the Texas country/folk scene as one of the co-lead vocalists of the Gougers before the band gradually gave way to not only Wilson's solo work (the fine EP "Dirty Blonde Hair" was released in 2010) but also higher-profile musical adventures with The Trishas, an all-female singer-songwriter band that has toured through some of the state and nation's best venues. Scoring one of the best albums of 2012 with "High Wide & Handsome,” the Trishas lit up the genre for a few years while always leaving Wilson room for solo gigs, guest spots on over a dozen albums by now, and song-swaps with like-minded artists all over Texas and beyond.
Both deeply personal and solidly collaborative, Holidays & Wedding Rings is an evident labor of love from the sort of songwriter who can delve into the sweetness of family life without hitting sap. Someone who can dig into heartache without wallowing in it, go slow and subtle and still leave a listener rapt. Someone who can share the spotlight with top-flight musicians: veteran Texas music hands John Ross Silva, Scott Davis, Cody Foote and Reckless Kelly’s David Abeyta are all in the mix here, along with alt-country star Wade Bowen on a spine-tingling duet/co-write. Wilson’s home life as a wife and mom come through often in her music (and are known to many of her fans through her humorous social media profiles) but creatively, she can portray lonesome and restless with the best of them.
Multiple approaches, countless gigs, several years and nearly a million miles into what promises to be a grand career, Jamie Wilson not only runs with a good crowd: she never fails to stand out.