My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Cody Jinks

Hidden gems of 2018

Here are my favorite album tracks of the year, omitting the albums which made my best albums of the year list.

10. Jay Bragg – ‘The Dreamer’ (from Honky Tonk Dream)
Honky tonker Bragg’s debut album may be only eight tracks, but it’s a strong collection. Best of the bunch is this pensive reflection on how strongly rooted a love is.

9. Kathy Mattea – ‘Mercy Now’ (from Pretty Bird)
A spare, tender version of Mary Gauthier’s song.

8. Jason Boland & The Stragglers – ‘Hard Times Are Relative’ (from Hard Times Are Relative)
A moving story song about a pair of young siblings supporting one another.

7. Catherine Britt – ‘The River And The Gum’ (from Catherine Britt & The Cold Cold Hearts)
Australia’s Catherine Britt retruned to her traditional roots for her latest album. This folk-country ballad is a delight.

6. Ashley McBryde – ‘Girl Goin’ Nowhere’ (from Girl Going Nowhere)
An excellent, thoughtful song about the lif of a struggling musician and what makes it worthwhile. It should get some more attention this coming year, as the track has just been announced as Ashley’s new single.

5. Joshua Hedley – ‘Counting All My Tears’ (from Mr Jukebox)
Very retro, and very good. This sounds like a forgotten classic from the early 1960s.

4. Mandy Barnett – ‘Lock Stock And Teardrops’ (from Various Artists, King Of The Road: A Tribute To Roger Miller)
An exquisite version of a classic.

3. Cody Jinks – ‘Somewhere Between I Love You And I’m Leavin’’ (from Lifers)
A strong song about a relationship on the verge from a rather mixed album.

2. Pistol Annies – ‘When I Was His Wife’ (from Interstate Gospel)
The trio’s latest album didn’t qute make my top 10 of the year, but it is a strong and artistically ambitious collection. The barbed lyric of the best song on the album, set to a sweetly vulnerable country melody, reflects on an acrimonious divorce.

1. Oak Ridge Boys – ‘If I Die Drinking’ (from 17th Avenue Revival)
A magisterial gospel reading of a wonderful song previously recorded by its co-writer Vince Gill. (The other writer was Ashley Monroe.)

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Album Review: Cody Jinks – ‘Lifers’

I was very impressed by Cody Jinks’ 2016 release I’m Not The Devil https://mykindofcountry.wordpress.com/2016/09/07/album-review-cody-jinks-im-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

Occasional Hope’s top 10 albums of 2016

real-country-musicThere has been some excellent country music released this year, admittedly mostly away from the major labels. Just missing my cut were strong comebacks from Loretta Lynn and Lorrie Morgan; glorious Western Swing from the Time Jumpers; sizzling bluegrass from Rhonda Vincent and her band; and a pair of very promising debuts from Mo Pitney and William Michael Morgan.

10 – Bradley Walker – Call Me Old Fashioned
Traditional country meets gospel from an underrated singer.

Best tracks: ‘His Memory Walks On Water’; ‘Why Me’; ‘Sinners Only’; ‘In The Time That You Gave Me’.

big-day-in-a-small-toen9 – Brandy Clark – Big Day In A Small Town

Like Miranda Lambert’s latest, this album married outstanding storytelling and songwriting, good vocals and overbearing production. But the songs here are so strong that the end result still made it into my top 10.

Best tracks: ‘Since You’ve Gone To Heaven’; ‘Three Kids, No Husband’; ‘Homecoming Queen’.

8 – Cody Jinks – I’m Not The Devil

His deep voices tackles themes of darkness versus light, on some very strong songs.

Best tracks: ‘The Same’; ‘I’m Not The Devil’; ‘Grey’.

7 – Jamie Richards – Latest And Greatest

Warm, inviting vocals and excellent songs with a real gift for melody.
Best tracks: ‘I’ll Have Another’; ‘I’m Not Drinkin’; ‘Last Call’; ‘Easier By Now’.

for-the-good-times

6 –Willie Nelson – For The Good Times: A Tribute To Ray Price

As the veterans of country music continue to pass away, it’s a comfort to see that at 83, Willie Nelson is still going strong. His tribute to the late Ray Price, with the help on several tracks of The Time Jumpers, was a delightful reminder of some of the best country songs ever written.

Best tracks: ‘Heartaches By The Number’; ‘Crazy Arms’; ‘Invitation To The Blues’.

5 – Dallas Wayne – Songs The Jukebox Taught Me

The deep voiced singer’s Heart of Texas debut is a honky tonk joy.
Best tracks: ‘No Relief In Sight’; ‘Eleven Roses’; ‘She Always Got What She Wanted’.

4 – Mark Chesnutt – Tradition Lives

A solid return from the 90s star with some excellent songs. It feels as if the last 20 years never happened.

Best tracks: ‘Is It Still Cheating’; ‘So You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore’; ‘Neither Did I’.

hymns3 – Joey + Rory – Hymns That Are Important To Us

A final heartbreaking labor of love for the duo recorded during the last stages of Joey’s illness. Joey’s beautiful voice and inspirational spirit are showcased for the last time.
Best tracks: ‘Softly And Tenderly’; ‘When I’m Gone’; ‘I Surrender All’.

2 – John Prine – For Better, Or Worse

I adored John Prine’s collection of classic country duets on the topic of marriage, and said when I reviewed it that it was set to be my favourite of the year. I was almost right. It really is a delightful record – great songs, lovely arrangements, and outstanding vocals from the ladies counterpointing Prine’s gruff emotion.

Best tracks: ‘Fifteen Years Ago’ (with Lee Ann Womack); ‘Look At Us’ (with Morgane Stapleton); ‘Color Of The Blues’ (with Susan Tedeschi); ‘Cold Cold Heart’ (with Miranda Lambert); ‘Dreaming My Dreams With You’ (with Kathy Mattea); ‘Mr And Mrs Used To Be’ (with Iris De Ment).

1 – Gene Watson – ‘Real. Country. Music

While Willie Nelson is still great, his voice is showing signs of age. The wonderful Gene Watson is still at the peak of his powers in his 70s, and his skill at picking excellent material hasn’t faltered either. His latest album reminds younger performers what real country music is all about.

Best tracks: ‘Couldn’t Love Have Picked A Better Place To Die’; ‘Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall’; ‘When A Man Can’t Get A Woman Off His Mind’; ‘A Bridge That Just Won’t Burn’; ‘Ashes To Ashes’; ‘She Never Got Me Over You’.

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-