Showing posts with label Loretta Lynn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Loretta Lynn. Show all posts

Jun 7, 2024

Countin’ The Miles: A Conversation with Jesse Daniel

Countin’ The Miles: A Conversation with Jesse Daniel

By Kevin Broughton

Four studio albums in, nobody can question Jesse Daniel’s commitment to keeping alive the flame of traditional country music. The Austin-based California native raised the eyebrows of his peers with a 2019 Ameripolitan award, then cemented that acclaim with Rollin’ On in 2020 and 2021’s Beyond These Walls. A live album last year set the table for his “country-est” record yet, Countin’ The Miles, which drops today. 

With each album’s release and the accompanying wider – if gradual – acclaim, it’s the same humble dude on the other end of the phone. His past struggles with addiction are no secret, even if there are fewer overt references to it in the songs these days; but there’s an even-keeled ethos to him born of recovery. Nothing’s too high or low, and there’s always an aura of gratitude about him, using “we” more often than “I” in conversation, and always staying positive. 

He takes simple joy in country music, and wants others to as well. And nobody’s doing authentic country music better than Jesse Daniel. We caught up with him for a few minutes to talk about his first stab at producing, signing with a new label, sassy girlfriend duets, and that other Haggard. 

Seems like forever ago when we first met, in February of 2020, just before the world changed. You nicknamed that tour “Chasin’ Jason,” as you were following The Stragglers’ bus from one opening gig to the next. A little more than four years later, and you’ve got “people,” at least in your publicity shop! How can his own tour bus not be the next thing for Jesse Daniel? 

(Laughs) Man, I hope there’s a bus in my future! That’s the dream we’re working toward. You know, tours like you mentioned with Jason and a lot of others, the “chase the bus” thing is just paying my dues. But I feel like we’re earning it and moving toward that goal. 

Something else jumps of the credits page, too: “Produced, arranged and performed by Jesse Daniel.” That’s a big step, considering how tight & professional the production of the last two studio albums were. What drove that decision, and what stood out to you about the experience of producing your own album? Would you do it again? 

I would definitely do it again, and I certainly hope to produce more records for both me and other artists in the future; I’d like to help their vision come to life. I think it started for me when I was about nine or ten years old. My dad had an old 8-track recorder, and I would take his old tapes unbeknownst to him and record over them. One specifically he didn’t appreciate was a Jeff Beck 8-track. But I would tape my own songs over them.

My brother had a drum kit, and I had my dad’s bass and guitar, and I just plugged them directly in; I had a little microphone, too, so I’d just record drums, guitar, bass, and vocals myself. That was my first experience. It was super-primitive and sounded really rough, but ever since then I’ve been fascinated with the idea of not just writing songs, but putting a recording together; all the components. So I was finally ready to do that again, on my own, and dive into this project without any co-contributors on that side. It was really down to me. 

There’s another noticeable change from albums past: Your partner, sometimes co-writer and harmony vocalist, Ms. Jodi Lyford, gets to spread her wings and sing lead on a couple verses for different songs. Understandably, some fans may ask, “What took y’all so long?” Is there a solo record in Jodi’s future? 

Yeah! That was something really exciting for us to do on this album. Jodi’s been singing with me – officially – since about 2018, but even before that we sang and wrote together. She’s been singing harmony with the band for years and years now, so it was a natural progression to let her take the lead on some songs. She’s really coming into her own as a lead vocalist, and it’s definitely a step in the right direction of doing something in the future. Yeah, I hope she would want to do that because it would be a lot of fun to do a Jodi record.  

Before we get into some of the cuts on Countin’ The Miles, I’m curious about your songwriting process. Do you typically start with lyrics? Is there a phrase in your mind you try to wrap a melody around? 

A lot of times it starts with an idea or a phrase…or a line. That’s usually how it starts out. And I’ll almost have a melody associated with that line already, you know? Usually with the hook of the chorus, and I try to build around that. Other times, I’ve just had a guitar lick and just come up with lyrics that kind of fit the mood of what I’m playing. 

This time around, I wrote a lot of these songs on the road, so they have a moving feel to them. So maybe they’re more introspective, just because of the time I had to dive into those subjects. 

“That’s My Kind of Country” is a sweet follow-up companion to “Simple Things” from Beyond These Walls.



…Is this sort of a flag-planting, a reminder to everybody: Hey, we’re still doing this “traditional country” thing over here! How important is it to have a positive, uplifting vibe on your albums? 

Thanks, man, I appreciate that. I definitely think it’s in my style to do things like “Simple Things,” and it really was a follow-up. I wanted to put that flag in the ground: I love traditional country music, I love fishing, I love doing outdoor stuff. I feel like in a lot of music today that’s being called “country,” or masqueraded as such, people will actually become offended when they found out you actually grew up in the country and are into doing country stuff! Like that’s taboo, and we’re supposed to just be cosplaying at it. This is just me digging my heels in and saying “This is who I am.” And I know a lot of my fans share that sentiment. 

As far as the positive message goes, yeah, I try to carry that on through the records because life isn’t perfect, but I’m on a positive upswing compared to where I started. And that’s what I want to keep going.   

I have a tee shirt about somebody playing “my kind of country,” by the way. Between your last album’s closer (“I’ll Be Back Around”) and “Ol’ Montana” on this one, you’ve mastered the technique of the sneaky murder ballad/prison song. In each case, it took me about a verse and a half to figure out the subject matter was actually dark. Is a murder ballad or two obligatory? 

I really do love the tradition of those, and not just the country songs. Folk music, blues, bluegrass, they all have a great tradition of murder ballads. And usually at the end it’s the man killing the woman, like in “Knoxville Girl” or whatever. But in Ol’ Montana I wanted to allude to the man shooting her lover, and by the end of the song you figure out he’s writing from inside a prison cell. 

Everyone can point at me and laugh for not knowing this guy is a thing, let’s just stipulate to that right now. But I listened to “Tommorow’s Good Ol’ Days” and thought, “Dang, that’s got a Merle vibe to it.” And I look at the credits and see “Ben Haggard,” because of course it is! What in the world is going on here? 

I really wanted to do that song justice, because it really is a tip of the hat to Merle Haggard. I had been talking to Jodi about it, and she was the one to suggest getting Ben to sing. So on a whim I texted him what we had of the song. He got back to me almost immediately and said he loved it. It came together really naturally, and I think he really makes the song what it is. Having that Haggard voice on there didn’t hurt it one bit. 

Of the two duets with Jodi on this record, I really like “Steppin’ Out,” because it reminds me of some of the sassy collaborations down through the years. Sounds like y’all had fun on this one; did y’all write this one together? 

Yeah, we wrote that one together and it was really a lot of fun. It reminds me of some of the old classic Conway & Loretta duets. It’s hard to beat a good sassy cheatin’ song, and we had a blast. 

I teased you a little bit about having “people” at the outset (tell them I said thanks for not putting a hard-out time on this interview. Next time may be different!) But you did recently sign with Lightning Rod Records out of Nashville. I’m curious, first, whether that came before or after this album was recorded, and second, how it’s affected you in this next phase of your career?

Signing with Lightning Rod came about while the record was already in the works. My plan all along when recording it was to try and get it to a bigger audience, and to do things bigger than we’d done before. I got in touch with Logan Rogers from Lightning Rod – they’re affiliated with New West Records – and they have a great roster. Logan works really hard for his artists, but he also doesn’t just work with anybody. He’s got a selective group he works with, and might take on one artist/record per quarter that he focuses on. 

With his level of devotion it was really a no-brainer. We had talked to some major labels that just kind of gave us the runaround; it was all about numbers, or maybe they wanted to talk about making some “more commercial-sounding stuff.” With Logan, I told him, “I want to make the most country album I’ve ever made,” and he said, “Cool. Let’s do it.” Lightning Rod’s a good home for us. 

Finally, since you now have “people,” could you hit them up about a future Atlanta date on a tour? 

I would love to come back to Atlanta, and I can’t believe it’s been that long. We’ve had some requests from Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and the Southeast, it’s just been hard to make work, routing-wise. 

It’s a target-rich environment of country music-loving rednecks down here, man. Folks will love you. 

I know! Those are my people. I’ve gotta get down there. We’ll make it happen. 

Jan 22, 2024

Dec 15, 2023

Country Songs Illustrated by AI

List of songs at the bottom if you don't get some of these.

Johnny Cash "A Boy Named Sue"
Loretta Lynn "Fist City"
Charlie Daniels Band "The Devil Went Down to Georgia"
Tracy Byrd "Watermelon Crawl"
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit "King of Oklahoma"
Hank Sr. "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It"
Hank Sr. "Jambalaya"

Mar 2, 2023

Overly Politically Correct Country Songs: Zach Bryan, REK, Loretta, etc.

Don't get bent, I'm just having fun with the English language.

Guy Clark - Wayward Persons Waiting for a Train

Loretta Lynn - Climate Change Facilitator’s Offspring

Robert Earl Keen - Non-Hispanic American Honeymoon

& Happy Holidays from the Group of Persons Living Together

Ray Wylie Hubbard - Intercourse You, We’re from Land Stolen From Mexico

Gretchen Wilson - Uncultured Rural Cishet Female

Reckless Kelly - Mentally Challenged Eddie’s Last Hurrah

Cross Canadian Ragweed - Young CIS Males from Oklahoma

Dolly, Linda, and Emmylou - To Know Xem is to Love Xem

Rhett Akins - I Brake for Blue Hairs

Conway Twitty - Lascivious Male Glare Upon The Female Form in Denim

Zach Bryan - Extremely Attractive CIS Female From Oklahoma

Wheeler Walker Jr. - Cunnilingus/Physical Assault

Southern Traitor Railroad - Sexually Liberated Womyn

Miranda Lambert - Caucasian Mistruth Teller

Roger Miller - My Xio Used to Love Me but Xe Died


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