Since we first heard the songs of Texas’ Jason James, we knew there was something there worth keeping an eye on. James in many ways feels closer to an artist like George Jones than an artist like Luke Bryan. After what felt like a long period, James has released his second album Seems Like Tears Ago and it’s a throw back to traditional country music without sounding dated.
A couple of things before proceeding. For starters, the album was produced by Texas musician John Evans and it’s magnificently done. The record sounds like a taste of Texas, or at least how the South used to sound. Much like the soundtrack to little beer joints that serve burgers on the side and honky tonks that still pack em’ in every Friday night.
Opening with the title track, James wastes no time in recalling a country sound that you haven’t heard in years. The pop sheen that’s strewn about modern country music is gone. Instead strong vocals and a pedal steel replace the pop tinged over production that’s become common today. While “I Miss You After All” reminds your ears of acts like Buck Owens and Webb Pierce, James treads his own path here. The mosey in his voice, the way the song rolls out like it was meant for two steppin’ just means all the pieces are in the right places.
There’s a lot here worth mentioning. “We’re Gonna Honky Tonk Tonight” keeps the upbeat strides coming with plenty of twang, “Coldest Day Of The year” is a piano lead track that falls on the ears like butter melts on flap jacks and “Ole Used To Be” has plenty of crooner notes. But with all of that there’s a depth to these songs that just feels like the type of country the genre has been missing. The fiddle comes in where it’s supposed to and the drums are at the right levels. There’s definitely plenty that sits well with where country once was. Though throughout all of the twang the most original track comes with “Cry On The Bayou.” With a sound that incorporates an “on the bayou” Zydeco feel, the track has those moments that grace close to what Doug Sahm did at times while still sounding fresh. In many ways Seems Like Tears Ago reminds us that great country music still exists, even when it’s coming from an artist ready to shy away from the Nashville sound.
Seems Like Tears Ago is available to stream on all platforms, it can be purchased digitally in all online music stores or physically directly from the Jason James web store. Jason James is on tour October 12 in Amarillo, TX at Republic Country Club & BBQ until November 02 in San Angelo, TX at Blaine’s. His complete schedule of live appearances can be accessed here.
Image Credits: Valerie Fremin.