Showing posts with label Vince Gill. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vince Gill. Show all posts

Apr 21, 2017

Jason Eady: The Farce the Music Interview

Where He’s Been: A conversation with Jason Eady

By Kevin Broughton


The word comes up often with Jason Eady. His songwriting process, the way someone plays pedal steel, the setup in a recording studio; he tags all with this adjective that can mean anything from farming without pesticides to a really hard chemistry class focused on carbon.  One gets the feeling, though, that Eady is using either the “having systematic coordination of parts” or “forming an integral element of a whole portraitures” usages.  

His sixth and self-titled album is being released today on 30 Tigers. His three-year layoff from the studio (since 2014's Daylight & Dark), overlapped with his easing into a fifth decade, produced a simpler, subtler Eady sound. Unplugged. Laid back. Smart. Organic.

The album’s first single, “Barabbas,” has been widely circulated and critically praised already. Such an ancient name – that of he who received clemency while the Savior bore the sins of the world – certainly raises an eyebrow. I heard the judge ask the jury, which one’s the one to go? Then I heard them say my name, and why I’ll never know. So begins a lilting, introspective look at how fallen humans deal with guilt, forgiveness and redemption. Powerful in its humility and simplicity, it sets the tone for an album so beautifully understated that it’s the best record to date in 2017.

There’s a lot of flavor: bluegrass (“Drive”); story songs (“Black Jesus” and “Why I Left Atlanta”); and a poignant tune about the backside of cheating, “Where I’ve Been.” There’s a love letter to his daughter, and a reflection of turning the big four-oh. What’s missing? A mediocre cut. No throwaways here.

We caught up with the Mississippian-to-Texan, fresh off a jaunt to the Emerald Isle, and talked about how to write a waltz, tag-team songwriting, and re-immersing in the Arabic language.

You’re just off the road from a mini-tour in Ireland. A lot of roots/ Americana artists seem to have strong followings in Europe, Ireland and the U.K., while they might struggle to build an audience stateside. Why do you suppose that is?

Yeah, man, I’ve 100 percent noticed that. My wife, Courtney [Patton], and I have been going over there for several years. And before this time we had never taken a band, it was just these small acoustic tours.

But we noticed that exact thing, and we’ve talked about it. I think one thing is they just love roots music there; they just appreciate the authenticity of it. They like that sound coming from the States, especially from Texas and the South. So I definitely think that’s part of it.

Another thing I’ve noticed: I think – in Europe, where not everybody speaks English – harmony tends to be a big thing there. It sounds good to them even if they don’t know the language. And unlike in the United States, that’s all they can latch onto.

Photo by Anthony Barlich

Help me fill in a couple holes in the bio your publicist sent me. It says you grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. But I was a resident of the 6-0-1 for 20 years, and I’m thinking Rankin County.  In broad strokes, tell me about your upbringing, and where you went to high school.

That’s exactly right. I went to Florence High School.  But yeah, I grew up with that Southern music, and it’s a huge asset. Because it’s not like anybody had to sit me down and say, “You have to listen to this much blues music, and this much Southern rock and this much country.” All of it was there, and none of it was compartmentalized.

Whether it was church on Sunday, or a street festival in Jackson on a Saturday afternoon, music was always around. My dad was in a bluegrass band, and on Tuesday nights he’d have a bunch of those guys over, and they’d sit around in a big song circle and play old country and bluegrass songs. They had a songbook with all the chords in them -- I’d give anything to still have that book today. But they’d sit around and play -- I was probably 12 or 13 at the time – and when they left, my dad would hang his Martin up on the wall. And I would sneak in and grab that guitar and the songbook, and sit in my room for hours trying to figure all those songs out.

So that was the beginning, and before long I was playing in a little band in Puckett (Mississippi, population 354 in the 2000 census). This guy had a gig in his garage every Friday night – he had a PA and everything – and so I’d be right there with them, playing these old songs. I was 15 maybe, just starting to drive, and before I knew it I was playing in honky tonks around Jackson. My dad had to go with me so I could get in.

I’d like to know what you did in the Air Force, how long you were in, and how you got from it to full-time Texas musician. And how old a boy are ya’?

Ha. I’m 42. I had gone to Nashville to try and do the whole singer-songwriter thing when I was 19. One day I got really frustrated with the whole thing. And I realized that I just wasn’t ready.  I was always into the “songwriter” thing, wanting to be taken seriously as a songwriter. Then I got up there and realized how good those people were, and that I just wasn’t there yet. So I thought I needed to get out and see some things, get out and find some things to write about and see the world. So sort of on a whim one day, I joined the Air Force and ended up going to school to learn Arabic.

Wow. You were military intelligence?

I was, yeah. That was my job.

I was in for six years. Went in in ’94 and got out in 2000. I moved back to Mississippi and had put the whole music thing behind me. I worked a job there for a couple of years and then the boss opened a second office over in Ft. Worth, and he sent me out there. I hadn’t played a show since before the Air Force; I had given it up and gotten married and had a kid. I thought, “Those days are gone. I didn’t do it, I missed that opportunity so I’m moving on.”

And after a while, I started to go out and play open mics just for fun. I needed a hobby. I had never quit writing songs, though, so I’d do some covers then throw in a couple of mine.

Now there’s one thing about Texas more than any other place I’ve seen: They want you to play your own songs. If you don’t, they kinda wonder what’s wrong with you.

Anybody can do covers.

Right! So it just kinda took off; it got to the point where I was starting to get gigs. I wasn’t asking for it, but I surely liked it. I was doing my own thing, and after about six months I started coming in late to work and…well, I turned 30, that’s what it was. I decided if I was gonna do it, that was the time, so I quit my job and make a go of it. Been doing it ever since, so 12 years now. 

Courtney Patton and Jason Eady
Listening to your self-titled album – and in particular the opening cut, which we’re fixin’ to get to, I promise – I kept asking, “Who is this girl with the angelic harmonies?” Turns out her name is Courtney Patton, and y’all are married. Furthermore, y’all released an album of duets in December called Something Together.* What kind of songwriting dynamic was that, as it appears each of y’all brought some songs to the table? Mechanically and logistically, how did that work?

We met each other musically seven or eight years ago. We’d played shows together but sort of lost touch because Courtney quit music for a while; we ended up reconnecting about five years ago.  Coincidentally, we were both divorced. We’d get together and play songs and write songs. We were friends for a long time before, so it worked out great.

We don’t write as much together as people might think. She still writes with a lot of other people, as do I. And I tend to write more on the road, while she writes a lot when she’s home alone. But we figured if people want to hear what we sound like together at live shows, let’s give them what they want.

We did Something Together in the studio in a day – about four hours, really, with some really good microphones. It was some of her songs and some of mine. But one day we’re gonna sit down and write a duets album together, like George and Tammy.  

I can’t wait. Let’s get to your current record.

NPR took a liking to “Barabbas,” and you said the song was about reacting to guilt. I wonder, pop culture-wise, if yours is the first stab at his character since Anthony Quinn played him in a movie…

Oh, really?

Yep, Quinn played Barabbas in 1961. But I’m curious about co-writing a song with three other guys (Larry Hooper, Adam Hood, Josh Grider.)  What was that division of labor like? Did somebody have the original name, or concept, or what?

Yeah, that’s pretty much what happened. Larry Hooper – who’s a great songwriter out of Texas – had the lyrics to the first verse and the chorus written out. And he had the whole idea of doing a song about Jesus and Barabbas, from the latter’s point of view. That was 100% him. And I took it and gave it a melody and wrote the third verse.

I knew it still needed something, and just happened to be playing a show with Adam Hood. And he grabbed Josh Grider, and things just kinda went from there. So, it wasn’t one of those deals where four guys sat in a room and crafted a song together, which is really cool. Sometimes when there’s a group setting, you can tend to compromise a little. With this type of writing, everybody gets more of his contribution put cleanly into it.

So that’s where it came from. And we were very careful, very intentional about not – in the lyrics – not mentioning his name or Jesus’s name or the time period. We wanted all that to come from the title, so it could be a universal song

You’ve said that as you’ve matured as an artist and a songwriter, “The real joy comes from the process, rather than the end goal.” Expand a little bit on that, and if you can, give an example from this new album.

I guess what I mean is writing for the artistic part of it. For the art itself, and not writing with the idea that you need this many radio singles, or this many ballads or this many up-tempo songs. Because I’ve done that on previous albums; in the back of my mind, it’s been, “I’ve gotta have at least one radio song.”

Over the years, I’ve found that whenever I think or anticipate like that, I’m almost always wrong. So planning things out like that is a futile exercise, and I’ve had more success with songs that I didn’t think anyone would respond to. And I’ve learned by now that if it’s a song that I like and feels natural and it’s going down well in the studio…and if it comes from an authentic place, I just have to trust in that, because it’s usually gonna translate.

Speaking of the process…listening to Something Together, there are several songs in ¾ time, some real pretty waltzes. This is kinda random and it’s never occurred to me before, but do you (or does anyone) sit down and say, “this is gonna be in ¾,” then write accordingly? Structurally, the phrasing is gonna be different; but do you hear it in your head first, and just let the words follow?

I think everybody’s different, so I can’t presume to speak for anyone else. For me, whenever I write, I sit down and just start playing guitar. Someday it might be bluesy, or country, or folky, but I just start strumming. And things either start happening or they don’t; I’ll have ideas jotted down, but it’s not very rigid. I don’t say, “Today I’m gonna write a song in ¾ time.” It’s a lot more organic than that.

So that’s where it starts, and then it just becomes what it becomes. And usually – I’ve found with all my songwriting – the faster and more effortlessly a song comes out, the better.  I try not to overthink it.

You’ve got some pretty heavy hitters on this record.  Let me just throw a couple names out, and you tell me how you got them there. First, Lloyd Maines plays a bunch of instruments; how did that work?

Yeah. Lloyd played on my A.M. Country Heaven album, and I’ve known him for years. You can’t play in Texas and not know of Lloyd Maines; he’s so central to this thing out here. I knew I wanted him on this album because I love the way he plays Dobro. And I also knew that steel was gonna be the only electric instrument on this album. So I knew it had to be someone who came at steel from a very organic place, and didn’t use a lot of pedals and a lot of effects. And I even told him, “I don’t want much reverb; just do your Lloyd thing.”

And of course, he nailed it. He did exactly what we were hoping he’d do.

And oh by the way, Vince Gill sings harmony on “No Genie in This Bottle.” He’s no slouch. How’d you manage that one?

Most of these people on the album are on it because of Kevin Welch. Kevin’s the producer and he knows all these folks. He spent a lot of time on the road with Vince, and I don’t know if he ever recorded one of Kevin’s songs, but they were together a lot during that whole thing during the 80s and 90s. And there’s an Austin City Limits episode out there where Kevin’s in the background, playing rhythm guitar for Vince.

So they’re good buddies, and while we were putting this record together, I just brought up Vince’s name and that I loved his harmonies. Kevin said, “Well, let me call him and see if he wants to do something.” And we sent him a couple of songs to see if he was interested, and if so, to pick one. And that’s the one he picked, and of course he just nailed it.

Did y’all do it live?

We did not. Unfortunately I’ve still not met Vince; I’m hoping to. But we did it the way a lot of records are made these days: We sent him the files and he just did his vocals and sent it back. But man, I’m hoping to. I’d love to do another song with Vince someday.

This makes how many albums for you?

This is my sixth, not counting the one with Courtney.

Then I think we should say seventh. Why a self-titled record now?

Because you only get one shot at it. I always said that one day I was gonna write a really personal album. I wanted to write most of the songs on it myself, and was going to make it about my personal story, something very authentic. And that’s definitely what this album is. There’s a song about my daughter. There’s a song about turning 40.

I’ve done a lot of different things over the years: songs made for Texas radio, songs that were bluesey-er. The last one was much more traditionally country. On this one, I tried to bring all those things together. Here’s everything that I do, all put together. And once I realized that I’d done that, I knew this was the time to make it self-titled.

Before we get out of here, I want to circle back to your time in the service and what you did, if that’s okay. You were military intelligence, Arabic-trained and got out not long before 9/11. Did you “what if” for a while, and do you pay attention to the news with a special perspective?

Yes, I got out a year before 9/11. It was a strange time for me because all that was still felt very fresh, and I knew that all of my friends who were still enlisted were about to have their whole lives changed. A part of me felt pretty guilty about that. And I definitely watch the news differently now than I did before I went in. I got a world perspective during my Air Force time, and especially being in intel, got to understand a lot of background about what goes on in the world. Once you see things from that perspective it's hard to go back. I still keep up with the news daily.

Did you choose Arabic, or did the Air Force choose it for you?

I didn't choose it. I went in to be a linguist but they picked the language. ** It wasn't something that I would have ever chosen, but looking back I'm really glad that it worked out that way. I learned a lot about that culture and it opened my eyes to a lot of things in that part of the world. That never would have happened without my time in the Air Force.

I’ve read that career diplomats assigned to that part of the world tend to fall in love with the Arabic language. Apparently there are so many words that can’t be translated to English with any sort of simplicity.

I love it. It's a pretty incredible language. They say that the language you speak plays a part in the way you think. I can see that. They do have words that would take us whole sentences to translate. My daughter is studying Arabic in college right now so I'm getting to get back into it by helping her. I'm having to brush up on it, and am remembering how much I like it.

Post script:

Eady and I ended up swapping book recommendations, as we’re both fascinated by history and foreign policy. One he suggested is a real keeper, if you’re into that stuff: Prisoners of Geography – Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World. I heartily endorse his endorsement.  

Just in case, you know, you wondered if this guy might be a thinking man’s songwriter.

Jason Eady's self-titled album is available today from Amazon, iTunes, Lonestar Music, etc.

* This record was released with little fanfare in December 2016. It would have otherwise made my Top 10 list in the FTM critics’ poll.

** Author’s note: Arabic, along with Farsi, Chinese and Korean are only assigned to recruits who’ve blown the top off the entrance aptitude test. Jason Eady will likely never be played on pop-country radio. (These two sentences may be related.) 

Apr 19, 2017

Album Review: Charlie Worsham - Beginning of Things

Charlie Worsham – Beginning of Things

by Jonny Brick

Hi, my name is Jonny and I love country music. Nice to be here. I think it best that I start my first piece on Farce The Music by acknowledging my forebears.

Here is what FTM thought of Rubberband, Charlie’s debut from way back in 2013, when number one songs included the gruesome twosome "Cruise" and "That’s My Kind of Night" (I am contractually obliged to call both those songs rubbish):

Rubberband is mainstream country music as it probably should be in 2013. It's not rock masquerading as country, or country wishing it were pop, or (thank God) hick-hop.

‘Charlie's music is organic, honest and warm…It's accessible but not pandering. It's catchy but not built solely around hooks. It goes down easy, but requires repeated listens to get a full appreciation.’

If that’s your bag, or if you enjoyed Rubberband like I did – I was briefly addicted to "Want You Too" – then Beginning of Things is the album for you.

Here in the UK (I’m writing from London), we have adopted Charlie because you in the US didn’t want him, like a sort of Bush (the band) in reverse. (Gavin Rossdale is our version of Blake Shelton here, so go fig.)

As a nice gift to his fans over here in the UK, Charlie accidentally left copies of Beginning of Things in the hands of his fans at his gig in November 2016. When he returned in March 2017, playing Country2Country (C2C) in London and at small venues across the country, some fans knew every word to songs that had not yet been released.

To promote the album, Charlie released a wave of five songs (John Mayer-style) in January 2017, which all appear on the LP. "Southern by the Grace of God" is co-written with Luke Dick and the modern-day Tom T Hall, Shane McAnally. The harmonies in the chorus are awesome, as is the way Charlie tags the end of the chorus with a reference to the bluegrass style of singing like a hillbilly. It’s authentic and fun, and proves Charlie knows his heritage.

Daniel Tashian and Abe Stoklasa wrote "Call You Up," which has hints of the former’s work with the band formerly known as The Bees, now called The Silver Seas. The latter has played keyboards on Lady A’s tours, and wrote with Charles Kelley, who I am sure would leave Lady A to pursue his more interesting solo career…if only his mortgage would pay itself.

Charlie has told the story of headlining a gig above Sam Hunt and Kip Moore; the lineup was booked well before Hunty became a big star. Whereas Sam only played a few songs, the crowd grew restless when Charlie was up there trying to do his job. He should have been rubbing his sexy body like Shmuel, but must have been too busy playing chords and riffs on his guitar.

Charlie suffered a crisis of confidence after the tour, and is still too polite to blame old Hunty for this. I wonder if Sam’s expected second album will be musically better than Charlie’s, and about the Pope’s religious preference. I know whose album Nashville is betting their horses on selling a million copies. And it ain’t Chuck’s.

All this despite the fact that Vince Gill is his guiding light, that Marty Stuart played on Rubberband and that, in "Could It Be," Charlie has released one of the finest love songs in country music this decade.

(It’s better than "Need You Now," which I think is also an obvious easy target on this site; Lady A’s album will come close, in its best moments, to Beginning of Things, but will probably be weighed down by AOR. I am willing to be proven wrong.)

Consistency between Charlie’s two albums is maintained with having Ryan Tyndell on board once again. He wrote nine of the eleven tracks on the debut, and writes five here, including "Please People Please" (‘you can’t please people, please people, please’), a live favourite which really needs some airplay on country radio. Bobby Bones is a huge fan, and the Bobbycast with Charlie is a really brilliant hour of conversation.

Charlie uses his talents as a picker – he went to Berklee College of Music thanks to his brilliant pickin’ – to good effect as and when he needs to, sounding like Daryl Hall on the track’s solo passage. Hunter Hayes brought him onto the stage of the Greenwich Arena at C2C, so there is mutual respect from another act who deserved more appreciation.

Charlie can do throwaway pop songs (I’ll say it) like Paul McCartney or (I’ll say it) like Brad Paisley. There are a couple of them on Beginning of Things: "Take Me Drunk" has the great line, ‘What’s a drink got to do to get a guy in this bar?’ which is a song title on its own!

"Lawn Chair Don’t Care," with which he delighted Country2Country fans back in 2016, sounds like the theme tune to the Nickelodeon show Doug: ‘Boo-ba boo boo, boo-ba boo boo!’ Charlie sings. The chorus is a ‘sitting in a chair drinking a beer’, but with strong melodic heft.

It’s a co-write with Tyndell and Brent Cobb, and that trio also wrote "Only Way to Fly," a brilliant piece of music with a soaring chorus that demands to be sung at CMA Fest. Though, as I am contractually told to write, it’ll be drowned out by those darned FGL/Kane Brown fans, right?!

(Am I doing the right thing here by hating on T-Hub, The Other One and Kane Brown?)

Brent Cobb co-wrote "Old Time’s Sake" with Charlie and Jeremy Spillman, who also wrote "How I Learned to Pray," one of the softer songs on Rubberband. "Old Time’s Sake" is the equivalent song on this album, a magnificent ballad in 12/8 time. I love the line in verse one:
‘I love this song too. Can I dance with you? Let’s try something new, for old time’s sake.’ A killer.

The title track is a story in a song (duh, it’s country). Co-written by Stoklasa (who wrote "The Driver" with Charles Kelley), it’s a love story set to a lovely beat. The pace quickens with "Birthday Suit," whose chorus of ‘TAKE IT OFF, TAKE IT OFF!!’ must bring back awful memories of that Sam Hunt tour for Charlie. The song actually recalls the music of Beck, which isn’t bad musical company to be in.

Ben Hayslip, who is partly responsible for bro-country (he co-wrote "It Goes Like This," "Mind Reader," and "Honey Bee," as well as "Touchdown Jesus"), helped Charlie write "I-55," which sounds like its title, ‘a familiar stretch of interstate’. Fans of American rock music (which, from what I know, seems to be making a big impact on country sounds) will dig it, as there’s a lot of space between the notes on Charlie’s guitar part.

I am not surprised if Luke Bryan options this for his next record, as he’d kill for it and also deliver a great vocal. (I like Luke, get over it.)

"I Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere" shares a poppy sound with the likes of John Mayer – again, a guitarist-songwriter unafraid to go his own way, industry be damned – and is a big live favourite. It also stands as a sort of missing statement. Meanwhile, Charlie calls "Cut Your Groove" his ‘theme song’, and it’s the best thing he’s done and may well ever do.

Farce The Music readers will love how the three-chord marvel uses the physical object of the record to stand as a metonym for one’s life: ‘You got a melody, make ’em hear it!’ is a great affirmation from a guy who admitted to seeing a therapist to get his career back on track. "Cut Your Groove" is such a brilliant song that on any other act’s album it would relegate the rest to filler. Here it is just the best of a starry bunch.

It makes me wonder who else Britain can adopt because America are too stupid to make stars of proper stars like Charlie Worsham. We’ll make Charlie a huge star here of Sam Hunt proportions.

I know he won’t sell a million copies like Lady A, Sam Hunt or Luke will, but even if Charlie sells half a million (and gets people streaming too), at least that’ll ensure he can make another album and force these top acts to raise their game.

Just don’t make us wait four more years, Charlie!

Beginning of Things is out this Friday and will be available on iTunes, Amazon, etc.

Please welcome Jonny Brick, who runs this fine site, to Farce the Music as our newest contributor. His tastes skew toward the mainstream it seems, but more often the good stuff than not, so we're looking forward to his perspective. He's also from across the pond, so that'll add some different spice to our formerly all American presentation. -Trailer

Feb 9, 2016

Six Degrees of Vince Gill

This is so cool, I'm just posting the email I received about it.

Fans can enter any musician’s name to discover the  degrees of separation that musical figure has from Vince
  • For example, Kelly Clarkson has a degree of 1 as she recorded the Grammy-nominated “Don’t Rush” with Vince
  • The site highlights the magnitude of Vince’s impact through all genres of music around the world. Not only as a vocalist but also as a producer, songwriter and instrumentalist
    • Adele has a Vince Gill Number of 2
    • David Bowie has a Vince Gill number of 2
    • Yo Yo Ma has a Vince Gill number of 2
  • Vince’s average distance from any other artist in the database is approximately 3 steps
    • The Greek Death Metal Band Obsecration has a Vince Gill number of 5
  • Vince is a better connector than 99.87% of the musicians in the database, which contains over 1 million artists
  • Fans also have the option to filter by genre (Classical, Rock, Jazz, etc.) or by song credit (producer, performer, instrumentalist) to narrow the search
  • The page features 3 curated Spotify playlists with exclusive Vince commentary about his playing career and collaborations with many artists.

New album available Friday.  “Down To My Last Bad Habit” 


Related Posts with Thumbnails