Country music may stake its existence on the ‘truth,' but reality is far more mythical for a person raised in metropolitan suburbia and schooled in late 70s/early 80s chart music thousands of miles away from the revered ‘south’. Occasionally, you require a stark reminder why your ears leant in an alien direction and started to feel something for the quintessential sounds of rural America. Modern times make seeking out what you want accessible although this can negate the thrill of the chase. While the name Jason James popped up out of nowhere with absolutely zero prior knowledge, its source was a clever curation. A single sample of one track immediately led to a full play, then another and another… SEEMS LIKE TEARS AGO was the total antidote to a slow burner and that stark reminder to why heads turned a few ‘tears’ ago.
Yes, this album was a promo and can be judged by all on October 4th. It plays to a gallery, but plays an absolute blinder. At the time of publishing these thoughts, I have yet to read the press release or seek anything out about Jason James. I know nothing about the origin of any of the songs. However, the most important thing is listening to the ten tracks that prove a pure aesthetic adorable experience and roll out as a blueprint to a calling.
Do the terms ‘retro,' ‘traditional’ and ‘real’ have negative connotations? Maybe they exist to pitch a cause under threat or to simply add a description for the purpose of promotion. You can quite easily apply them to this Jason James record or just call it ‘country music’. Anybody who opposes such little boxes are free to drift away, genre is going nowhere.
Before you even spin this record signs of a winner are liberally displayed. The cover is pure elegant simplicity reeking with association. Ten tracks and thirty minutes meets the approval of those of us with weird dispositions. Puns, omissive apostrophes and converted verbs provide a cheeky angle for us purists to grin as we take a peep over the educational divide. Country music rebels and conforms in so many ways. Gazing down the track names categorically nails what you are likely to hear. But ultimately, how well does James deliver?
Of course, you already know that answer. A sleek combination of rich fiddle and steel comforts a proud voice born to sing heartbreak, all amidst non-pretentious songs constructed with transparent clarity. Transporting your mind to faraway places is not a bad way to spend half an hour, or longer depending on how many plays you can restrict yourself to. There is something primal about this album. Pure emotion with music, words and voice all beating to the same pulse.
I am not going to anoint a golden track, just place the whole album on the lofty pedestal it deserves. If you are clicking on a blog titled ‘Three Chords and the Truth’,there is only one thing to do after reading this review. Search ‘Jason James Seems Like Tears Ago,' listen to the damn thing when you can and fill in the gaps that have been left in this piece. I will do the latter in good time, out of courtesy to an artist who has created such a wonderful record.
Discovering SEEMS LIKE TEARS AGO reverberates like that proverbial shot in the arm. I appreciate many likeminded artists exist out there, but the practical limits of your periphery lead you only to a sane place in this over sensory world. Thankfully Jason James landed on the near horizon and his music did the rest.