Jason Eady says his latest release, following up to the excellent AM Country Heaven, is not a concept album, but in effect it is, as it tells one story. Eady himself summarises it by saying,
“‘Daylight And Dark’ was written as a ‘day in the life’ story of a man who is trying to find his way through a bad period of his life. He is struggling between his intentions during the daytime and his temptations at night. Every morning he wakes up determined to make changes and do the right thing but as evening approaches he starts to give in and lose his way again…. The entire album is sung from this same character’s point of view and the order of the songs also tells the same story.”
The complex emotions of the story of a troubled individual ring very true. It is produced with understated taste by Kevin Welch to put the excellent songs and compelling story center stage.
The rhythmic lead single ‘OK Whiskey’, which I reviewed back in November makes a compelling, attention-grabbing opener, and sets the scene with the protagonist at a metaphorical crossroads on a literal highway.
He is back on the road in ‘The Other Side Of Abilene’. This excellent song is addressed to the woman he has left at home, with the resigned vocal delicately ornamented by real-life fiancée Courtney Patton’s sweet harmony vocal, which is also in evidence on other tracks. After a night in a motel he realises he has
“got to turn back to see what lies ahead”.
Things slow down further for an introspective reflection on the fight with ‘Temptation’, a very fine song with a haunting steel guitar dominating the arrangement.
The wry ‘One, Two … Many’ offers a little self-directed justification for a fall from grace drinking too much:
I’ve had one, two … many
And that’s just enough to make me
Think so much that I can’t stand
‘Liars & Fools’ addresses two kinds of man, concluding he prefers the latter because
Liars, they live in their own little world
While the fools lay it all on the line
Yet he himself fits in the firmer category, as he reveals regretfully:
I watched as it all came undone
She was a fool for leavin’ my lies
And now I’m left with the damage I’ve done
Picking up both mood and tempo, ‘We Just Might Miss Each Other’ is a charming duet with Courtney Patton about trying to avoid an awkward encounter with the ex, with a lovely retro feel and bright fiddle.
The gently melancholic title track sees the protagonist facing up to his tangled life the morning after a drunken hookup with a stranger, but with no answers for himself:
I hear the normal people talkin’
Walkin’ right outside my window
And I wonder what they know that I don’t
Are they just survivin’ after all this time
And just going through the motions that I won’t?
‘Lonesome Down & Out’ is more forceful, as he admits defiantly that his druinking lifestule is due to his relationship breakdown:
I started runnin’
After the stayin’ failed to work
The melancholic ‘Whiskey & You’ (a Chris Stapleton tune which is one of only two songs on the album not written by Eady, and has previously been recorded by Julie Roberts and Tim McGraw) is a more somber reflection of life after divorce, almost a despairing one, which fits perfectly into the sequence. It is followed by the other outside song, Adam Hood’s ‘Late Night Diner’, which adds similar insight and sounds as if it was written for the project with its wistful acceptance of the high cost of failed love.
Finally, Eady joins up with Hayes Carll for the amusing story song ‘A Memory Now’, which ends the record on an upbeat note, with the passage of time having got the protagonist over his ex at last and revisiting all the warning signs. The sardonic tone makes this slightly out of keeping with the more thoughtful mood elsewhere, and it feels like more of a Carll song than an Eady one, but it does provide a positive conclusion to the story told through the album.
This portrait of a troubles soul is Jason Eady’s most ambitious record to date, and his finest achievement. This is highly recommended top anyone who wants some depth in their country music.