Jason Eady has been one of my favorite singer songwriters for a while, so I was looking forward to this album. I was delighted to find it is a truly excellent record from start to finish.
‘Barabbas’ is an excellent, thought provoking portrait of the criminal pardoned in place of Jesus, which Jason wrote with the help of Larry Hooper, Adam Hood, and Josh Grider. Jason’s imagined Barabbas is grateful for the opportunity of a second chance in life:
The guilt hangs twice as heavy when its followed by surprise
I’d surrendered, I was ready to give up and do my time
I did not know his name
Did not know why he was there
But on this side of forgiveness we both have our cross to bear
I know that I am free cause they did not like his kind
The man who preaches peace is always looking for a fight
Wife Courtney Patton adds a haunting harmony vocal.
Jason wrote or co-wrote all but one of the songs. That exception, ‘Black Jesus’, is a fascinating story song from Channing Wilson and Patrick Davis, which recalls a friendship which develops one summer between a teenage country boy and his workmate, an African American veteran. A lovely arrangement with super fiddle and very nice harmonies adds the final touches.
‘Drive’, written by Jaspn with Jamie Lin Wilson and Kelley Mickwee, is about a man gradually getting over an ex. Fidlder/mandolinist Tammy Rogers joins Courtney in providing harmonies on a track which might be described as muscular bluegrass with his loneseome wail and rhythmic banjo-led groove.
Vince Gill guests (though not very audibly) on the gorgeous steel-laced ballad ‘No Genie In This Bottle’, a deeply sad song about regret for past choices and the protagonist’s fruitless recourse to drinking as a solution for his pain:
If I had three wishes my first would be for a second chance
To do all those little things I didn’t do
Take the poison off my tongue
Stand strong when I cut and run
And be a better man than the one you knew
There ain’t no genie in this bottle
And I’ve been looking with every pour
As I get closer to the bottom
I find it just as empty as the one before
Jason wrote this one with Josh Grider.
Even better, and perhaps my favorite track, is ‘Where I’ve Been’, an incisive look at a troubled relationship on the verge of ending, set to a gentle melody.
She said “I haven’t been thinking ‘bout leaving
As much as I used to
In fact I haven’t been thinking too much at all
And I sure ain’t been thinking about you”
This is not what I wanted
I’d rather be home but a home takes more than me
So if you ever get tired of lonely
I’m only as gone as you want to be
She said “You ain’t been giving me the kind of love I’m needing
And you just ain’t been living like the man that I once knew”
So I’m giving up and giving in
Taking what I need every now and then
And if you ever decide you ever want to try again
Well, I’ll be here in the morning
Just don’t ask me where I’ve been
‘Why I Left Atlanta’ is a breezy story song about running away from the end of a relationship. ‘Waiting To Shine’ is an upbeat tune about finding inspiration as a songwriter. ‘Rain’ sounds like a mixture of Celtic, bluegrass and blues influences and has a hypnotic feel.
‘Not Too Loud’ is a touching and very personal song about fatherhood as Eady’s teenage daughter heads off to college. It has a beautiful steel dominated arrangement.
The album closes with ’40 Years’, another excellent song about experience, life, and the lessons learned so far, supported by a lovely fiddle line.
The past will leave you burning
If you don’t let it go
Tomorrow’s what you make it
You really do reap what you sow
This is an extremely good album, which I highly recommend to anyone who appreciates thoughtful country singer-songwriters.