- 07 Nov 19
One look at the sleeve will let you know where you are with this, the second album from Jason James. Western jacket, smart looking tie, cow’s lick quiff over his cherubic face, and deliberate country-stylised font – as a mate of mine commented, “I can hear the pedal steel from here…”
His 2015 self-titled more honky tonk debut certainly had its moments, but it was last year’s cover of Ernest Tubb’s ‘Let’s Say Goodbye Like We Said Hello’ – for a beer commercial – that really marked James out, and he’s got a better voice than Tubb ever had. This album places him squarely in the tradition of giants like George Jones or even Jim Reeves, men who knew how to use a baritone to wring every ounce of emotion out of a tune. The opening title track sounds like Jones reborn, getting the sound of The King Of The Heartbreakers absolutely right. Country fans can rejoice at this tale of a woman, suitably buoyed up by fiddle and that pedal steel, who left our man and the kids behind for a new family behind the swinging doors.
James seems to have discovered a hitherto untapped seam of classic country songs. Hank Williams would have considered ‘Achin’ Takin’ Place’, ‘We’re Gonna Honky Tonk Tonight’ and ‘Ole Used To Be’ a good day’s work, ‘Simply Devine’ and ‘Foolish Heart’ could also pass for resurrected Possum outtakes, and ‘I Miss You After All’ has the kind of perfect Jordanaire backing vocals that make you think of the jukebox in heaven. He hasn’t forgotten the dance floor either, ‘Cry On The Bayou’ and ‘Move A Little Closer’ would get a two-step going at a temperance rally.
A joy from soup to nuts, this is gonna take some beating for country record of the year.