Did George Jones come back from the dead?
This is exceptional — the approach is not imitation. Jason James is remarkable with the spirit of country legend George Jones. Though, fortunately, not all tracks are Jones inspired. This is not what you generally hear on today’s country radio. Mr. James mines a deep vein of traditional country.
I’m not suggesting the aim is for a legacy in country but Jason’s in the margin where similar great artists seldom get recognition – despite some fame — known by other artists & a loyal audience. The late Boxcar Willie was one – he was the missing link between Willie Nelson & Johnny Cash. A masterful performer & singer.
With Seems Like Tears Ago (drops Oct 4 – Melodyville Records) Jason tosses the dice to see if his absorbing LP can lasso in those who still value traditional country. Some do.
Jason James has a tight band & a voice that’s silky & smooth. He understands the ache of a good country song. It’s easy to compare a singer like this with more recent singers since a much younger audience seldom explores retro country, except for the obvious legends. But Jason’s ancestry on the first tracks is George Jones – no doubt.
By track 3 the throttle opens a little more & he modernizes his perfectly suited country voice.
While the Jones’ comparisons will be there on “Seems Like Tears Ago,” & “I Miss You After All,” – Jason finds solid ground as himself on “Move a Little Closer,” — lots of energy with fiddle work, rattling snare & a generous locomotive drive.
What’s compelling is Jason’s proper facial expression, Dondi hairstyle, suit & tie conservative cover art look. But make no mistake – he sings with authenticity. Aficionados of retro country music will guzzle this like beer at an Oktoberfest.
The band: Jason (acoustic guitar), Cody Braun (fiddle), T Jarrod Bonta ( piano), Chris Cook (rubboard), John Evans (Producer, lead guitar, Jaw harp, background vocals), Jacob Marchese (standup bass), Geoff Queen (steel guitar, electric & baritone guitars), Rich Richards (drums), Sara Stein & Patrick Herzfeld (backing vocals).
All songs are Jason James’ own though many sound written decades ago & were classics. Jason’s magic is his vocal delivery. Sincere & with “Simply Divine,” it’s just that – divine. If many of the classic country singers were alive today – Waylon, Merle, Mel Tillis, Patsy Cline – they’d dig into Jason’s trove of songs.
Jason, like Hank Williams, has lyrical cleverness, formidability & is a classic songwriter. His country croon’s about as genuine as possible. As Jason arrives at “Coldest Day of the Year,” & “Foolish Heart,” he borders on Jimmie Dale Gilmore phrasing (no mean feat).
I know Boxcar Willie would’ve shared a stage with Jason…maybe Willie Nelson will brave standing next to him today. The zydeco-Cajun driven “Cry on the Bayou,” is a nice closer. Well done. Jason James gets it. We need to.
The 10-track 33-minute LP – available at: https://www.jasonjamesband.com/