My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Tag Archives: Billy Don Burns

Album Review: Cody Jinks – ‘Lifers’

I was very impressed by Cody Jinks’ 2016 release I’m Not The Devil So was the highly esteemed independent label Rounder Records, which signed Jinks on the strength of it. His debut record for Rounder has just been released. I don’t like it as much as I’m Not The Devil, and it leans less to country, but it is a strong effort in its way.

Lead single ‘Must Be The Whiskey’ is a mid-paced song about a man unsure whether he should have settled down or run away. The arrangement is a bit busy and the melody rock-influenced, but the whole is quite catchy. Musically similar is the opening ‘Holy Water’. This revisits the theme of duality and struggling with darkness and sin which dominated the previous album, and is a good song although not quite sonically to my taste.

I’m still trying to get through to the man I wanna be
Maybe I’m not so gone that I can’t see
I need a shot of holy water
I need it to chase down my demons and burn just a little bit hotter
I’ve been having drinks with the devil in this neon town
I need a shot of holy water to wash it down

Much better is my favorite track on the album, ‘Somewhere Between I Love You And I’m Leavin’’, a beautiful sounding measured ballad which is a love song despite itself. My second favorite is the lovely ‘Colorado’. A wistful ballad of regret for a failed marriage, it is the most traditional sounding song on the album.

The title track is a sincere and likeable tribute to the hard working strivers of an older generation who refuse to give up despite the discouragements of life.

‘Big Last Name’ is a tongue in cheek song about an ambitious young woman who aims to marry money. I enjoyed this one. ‘Can’t Quit Enough’ is an energetic and unrepentant ode to the joys of life on the road and the narrator’s many bad habits.

‘7th Floor’ is a minor keyed song with a 60s folk-rock feel and an obscure lyric. ‘Desert Wind’ is a Western story song. ‘Stranger’ is an introspective Billy Don Burns song about the shock of realising one has grown old. The closing ‘Head Case’ also reflects on age and mortality, with a suitably somber cello-led accompaniment.

Overall, I was disappointed in the musical direction of this album, which draws more strongly on Jinks’ rock past, but it has some strong tracks worth hearing.

Grade: B

Album Review: Cody Jinks – ‘I’m Not The Devil’

i'm not the devilCody Jinks has a deep, brooding baritone voice which has intrinsic weight, and works well on a selection of songs whose overarching themes are dealing with maturity, and the internal battle between good and evil.

Opener ‘The Same’ is an excellent country song with some lovely fiddle, and a sober vocal from Jinks relating a pained conversation with an ex on an awkward meeting. She thinks he’s “doing fine”, but he clearly isn’t, as he remembers their last bitter fight. Very strong indeed.

The title track is even better, a waltz-tempoed confessional and plea for forgiveness:

I slipped and I fell
It got out of hand
But I’m not the devil you think that i am

It wasn’t no gun they held to my head
I got caught up believin’ in lies that were said
And in a moment of weakness I stumbled and I made my bed

There’s 10,000 reasons for you not to stay
And no one would blame you if you want it that way
It might take some time but I’ll show you that I’m worth the wait

The chugging outlaw-style ‘No Guarantees’ is also very good, as he talks about the battling influences of God and the devil in his life, and the ongoing struggle to get it right. ‘No Words’ is a mellow, reflective number about having grown older and found fulfilment in a relationship despite mistakes along the way, and disillusionment in other aspects of life.

The gentle piano-led inspirational ‘Give All You Can’ also ponders on life choices. The first three and a half minutes are very pleasing, but then it deteriorates into an extended jam of the chorus with gospel backing vocals and just goes on too long.

‘She’s All Mine’ is a pretty love song, and there is a nice cover of the Haggard hit ‘The Way I Am’.

The up-tempo ‘Chase That Song’, about life on the road, has a 70s country trucking song feel, and is quite good with an infectious groove, but lacks melody.

‘Heavy Load’ is another fine song about the burdens of sin and mistakes, with a tasteful melancholy fiddle and an arrangement which is not scared of silence:

The train jumped tracks some time ago
You can’t move that heavy load
It’s all downhill from now
I’m sure we paid the toll

It culminates in a spoken quotation about death from the Book of Revelation.

The thoughtful, poetic ‘Grey’, which has a somewhat elusive lyric which appears to be about battling depression, is another highlight:

When the desert that you’re in gets too cold for you to stay
When it’s hard to tell the night from the day
When your hands have lost their love for the trade
And the reasons for the work just ain’t the same
When you put down the money
Is the blood worth all the pain
When you can’t see the sunshine for the rain

Living ain’t a promise
Living ain’t a ride
And no one here is getting out alive

‘Church On Gaylor Creek’, written by Billy Don Burns, is a traditional country tune which contrasts nostalgia for childhood innocence with a jaded adulthood:

That church was a long time ago
I’m talkin’ distance and years
I’m not certain I could even get there from here
But on nights when I’m sober
Not blinded by all that I see
My mind washes up at that church on Gaylor Creek

‘Vampires’ is a reflection on passing time and disillusionment, which is more of a singer-songwriter song than a country one. Jinks has a rock background, which comes out in the closing gloomy political rant ‘Hand Me Down’, an echoey track which I didn’t like at all.

On the whole, though, this is a very worthwhile project I enjoyed greatly.

Grade: A-