Jason Eady – To the Passage of Time
Back in the early days of the pandemic (a whole 16 months ago), a group of Texas musicians started Sequestered Songwriters, a weekly series of online shows that pingponged around the Lone Star State, typically featuring tributes to the works of each week’s selected artist. It turned into a relief fund for out-of-work musicians, but it also served as a lifeline for bereft music fans (and resulted in some damn fine covers). Jason Eady (a native of Mississippi now based in Texas) is one of the accidental founders of Sequestered Songwriters, and he also managed to finish writing a fresh set of songs last year. That new album, To the Passage of Time, includes some material on the darkness of 2020, but focuses more on lessons of the past and what we might see tomorrow.
Eady fits the classic singer-songwriter mode – a guy and his acoustic, slingin’ some good songs (and, usually, sporting a pretty cool hat). In recording To the Passage of Time, he recruited a very small set of musicians and tracked the album live – no overdubs and no filler. The result is honest, heartfelt country music about the important things in life. “Nothing on You,” with a simple mix of acoustic and steel guitar and a cello part both gorgeous and essential to the song, is an expression of absolute dedication to the “right” one – “I think about all these hopes in my life/They ain’t got nothing on you.” “Gainesville” is an acoustic tribute to returning home, with Eady joined by Band of Heathens’ Gordy Quist (who also produced the record) in explaining what this trip means – “I can’t count the miles I put underneath my feet/Every step I’ve taken has become a part of me.” “Saturday Night” is a downbeat tale sparked by Eady’s early club days. The crowd is small and listless, and there hasn’t even been a fight! But at least the bar staff will always take care of the band – “Jenny pours a shot and then I take the stage/She likes to move to my groove when the crowd is light.” As the stools are placed on the bar and the night ends, a slick guitar solo pushes the song out the door.
The two standouts on To the Passage of Time represent our current world and our past. “Back to Normal” finds Eady where we’ve all been the past year and a half – not knowing what’s next: “We find we’re somewhere we ain’t never been.” What the song lacks in answers (as if anyone has them), it makes up for with a fantastic mandolin riff from Noah Jeffries. And the question in “French Summer Sun” is even more existential. Acoustic and spoken more than sung, the song tells us the tale of Eady’s grandfather’s service in World War II and life after, “Minus one leg which still seemed impossible.” He follows the timeline up to his own life – “I broke the streak and I went to college/Instead of Kabul or Kuwait.” Then, he imagines his grandfather’s service to his country had turned out…differently. I won’t give away all of Eady’s secrets, because it’s a neat piece of storytelling, and it deserves to be heard. The title song closes out the record, and it has Eady both looking back and forward. Backed by hazy steel guitar, the singer breaks down a life lived largely in dark spaces – “I wondered how I’d watch the years grow/Would I give up my demons before I grow old.” And, like so many of us, he’s sensed a personal shift that comes with age – “I’m up and I’m down again and again/But I know that it’s time for a change.” I think a line like that resonates with, well, everyone right about now.
Song I Can’t Wait to Hear Live: “Back to Normal” – the rockingest tune on the album might just make us feel a little more normal. Whatever that comes to mean.
To the Passage of Time was produced by Gordy Quist, engineered and mixed by Jim Vollentine and mastered by Fred Kevorkian. Additional musicians on the album include Geoff Queen (Dobro, pedal steel, lap steel), Noah Jeffries (mandolin, fiddle), Mark Williams (upright bass, cello), Brian Ferguson (drums) and Courtney Patton: Gordy Quist and Jamie Lin Wilson (harmony vocals).
Go here to order To the Passage of Time (out August 27): https://shopjasoneady.myshopify.com/
Check out Jason Eady tour dates here: https://www.jasoneady.com/tour
For more information about Sequestered Songwriters: https://www.sequesteredsongwriters.com/