JD Clayton’s Long Way From Home

By Brian Rock

JD Clayton recalls his Arkansas roots on his full-length debut, Long Way From Home. Following up on the success of his 2018 EP, Smoke Out The Fire, Clayton mines the same classic Country chords. His addition of Folk, Rock and Blues elements add layers of texture to his distinctive Americana sound. Combining tones of Chris Stapleton and Casey Donahew, Clayton’s authentic, back woods drawl captures the rustic feel of America’s heartland.

Clayton introduces the album with the brief prologue, “Hello, Good Mornin’.” Acoustic guitar and the sound of chirping birds are the only instruments as Clayton welcomes the day, and the album. He sings, “Sunshine were you calling my name? I thought I heard you calling me. So I pulled back my curtains to say hello; and I see it’s a beautiful day.” A simple meditation on greeting the day with a joyful heart, the song prepares us for the musical joys that lie ahead.

“Different Kind of Simple Life,” is a Country ballad about the yearning to leave the small town you grew up in. Singing, “Wind down this old rough road and make your own way to freedom, ‘cause no one’s gonna pull your boots up for ya. And fly with both your arms out wide to that sweet bye and bye,” Clayton expresses that universal longing for a better life. However, chasing that better life is often what allows us to appreciate what we had before. On the haunting, “Long Way From Home,” Clayton now sees his hometown from a distant vantage point. Missing what he once had, he sings, “Mama I know I’m a long way from home but this old dirt road keeps on going and these dreams of mine just don’t end.” Hammond organ and piano help convey the emotional impact of his homesickness. 

Between leaving and returning to his hometown, Clayton explores life and love on the road. “American Millionaire,” is an Outlaw Country take on chasing one’s dreams. Starting with sparse boot stomps and acoustic guitar, the song erupts into a bluesy, Allman Brothers style Southern rocker as Clayton defiantly sings, “I’m on the road today just trying to make this life they say wouldn’t come true.” A healthy dose of slide guitar and touch of Hammond organ give the song a soulful undercurrent. “Heartaches After Heartbreak,” captures a Blackberry Smoke style Country/Blues fusion as he ponders the pain of love gone wrong. Bouncing back, Clayton learns to love again on the cheery Outlaw Country of “Beauty Queen.” He further contemplates his good luck in love on the Honky-Tonk Country of, “Goldmine,” Comparing his love to a treasure, Clayton sings, “I don’t know why things happen like they do. But I remember having nothing before I met you. It was a hard place to be and a sure place to die, but life’s been pretty sweet since I found my goldmine.” Delving into a more abstract joie de vivre, Clayton evokes Sgt Pepper era Beatles on the playful, psychedelic Country of “Cotton Candy Clouds.”

Closing out the album, “Sleepy Night In Nashville,” nicely bookends the opening track. Incorporating rootsy rhythms with a Bluegrass flair, Clayton completes his metaphoric day (or chapter) in the life. Capturing the optimism of the album’s opener, he sings, “There’s gonna be some rain and a little thunder, but come morning time the sun is gonna shine.” Banjo and mandolin strains complete the lullaby effect as Clayton bids us all good night and sweet dreams.  |  fb  |  buy

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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