Reviews

Jason James Seems Like Tears Ago


By Brian Rock

If Ken Burns’ Country Music documentary gave you a literal “Hankerin’” for some good, traditional Country music, Jason James has just what you’re looking for in his latest release, Seems Like Tears Ago. Wearing a black, embroidered suit coat and matching tie; and standing behind a stack of classic vinyl records, the album cover gives you more than a hint of what to expect inside. And what’s inside does not disappoint.

The opening, weepy notes of the pedal steel on the title track set the tone for the album. When James enters with his yearning baritone voice, singing, “The day you said goodbye, I hung my head and cried,” you know you’ve found your way back to Country’s humble but glorious roots. Singing songs of heartbreak and loneliness, James is not afraid to shed a few tears in his beer. In fact, with titles like, “I Miss You After All,” “Achin’ Takin’ Place,” “Cry On The Bayou,” Foolish Heart,” and “Ole Used To Be,” his beer must be nearly clear.

Although James’s lyrics haven’t yet attained “Hillbilly Shakespeare” status, his vocal phrasing and musical arrangements of acoustic guitar, upright piano, occasional strains of fiddle and a whole, heaping helping of pedal steel perfectly match the mood and tone of Hank’s glory years. Ironically, it’s on one of the two non-tear jerkers where James sounds most like his hero. “We’re Gonna Honky Tonk Tonight,” captures the spirit of Hank Williams at his most playful and optimistic. It stands as a haunting reminder of what could have been. But with Jason James just beginning his career, it is also a hopeful indication of what is yet to come. With all the hyphenated sub-genres of the form, it’s good to get back to basics and remember where Country music comes from; and it seems like tears ago since we had such an unabashed purveyor of the form.

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Brian Rock

Brian Rock

Brian was raised gypsy style, moving every other year until well after college. As friendships proved to be temporary, Brian found a constant companion in music, wearing the grooves off Beatles and Dylan albums before moving on to Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yokam. Living so often in flux, he has come to value music and lyrics of lasting quality. Not moved by trends or fashion, he is drawn to timeless lyrics and soulful rhythms. Although now settled down, Brian still expresses his gypsy spirit through his writing. He has co-written songs with musician friends he’s met along the way, including several contributions to the 2012 ICMA Album of the Year, Family Album. Brian also writes children’s books and poems, including the Children’s Book Council featured title, The Deductive Detective.
Brian Rock

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