Jason Eady, for some time one of my favorite singer-songwriters, has collaborated with dobroist Rob Ickes and his musical partner Trey Hensley for his latest album, recorded live and acoustic in studio with Jason’s road band providing the rest of the backings. Ickes’ and Hensley’s contributions to the lively, fresh arrangements were completely spontaneously produced in the studio. This music is acoustic, but definitely not stripped down.
The up tempo opener sets the scene, with a lively old time feel as the narrator reflects on what has made him the man he is. There is a similar vibe on the upbeat ‘Now Or Never’. The catchy ‘That’s Alright’ is a relaxed tune about stress-free living, with some very nice fiddle.
The warm, mellow ‘Happy Man’ and the up-tempo ‘Pretty When I Die’ is are about making a good life one can be satisfied with.
‘Calaveras County’, inspired by an incident in Eady’s childhood, is a tribute to the goodhearted people of which is reminiscent to me of Tom T Hall.
‘Always A Woman’ is a slow solemn blues influenced number about the power of a good woman to help a man in trouble.
‘Below The Waterline’ is a fine story song co-written with Jason’s wife Courtney Patton about a flood when a river bursts its banks, with more lovely fiddle.
‘She Had To Run’ is a beautiful sounding bluegrass waltz about a woman fleeing domestic violence who manages to get out just in time:
Nothing could be worse than what she was leaving …
She knew the next time he’d do what he always said he would.
This understated but powerful song is the best on the album.
The vocals are a bit muddy on ‘The Climb’, and I couldn’t decipher it all, but it is a portrait of a man unsure of his future
He’s too low to reach the top
He’s come too far to go back down
He’s not lost, he just don’t know what to do
Finally the title track offers a gentle narrative about being trapped in a travelling life:
I’m out here searching for something I can’t hold
This is a thoughtful and rewarding album which is worth hearing, and might be summarised as in the troubadour tradition with a bluegrass twist, rather than the more traditional country of Jason’s recent work.