Jason Eady and the Wayward Apostles - Wild Eyed Serenade
(Oct 2007) Jason Eady’s latest release, Wild Eyed Serenade, is a breath of fresh air in the somewhat stale atmosphere of my usual tunage, Texas Country music. I really liked Eady's first project, From Underneath the Old, so I was confident that he would deliver a solid record this time, too. I was expecting more of the same when I popped Serenade into my CD player, but, much to my delight, my ears were greeted not with country music, but, rather, with a solid dose of good ol’ Americana.
You may ask, "What is Americana?" Ask ten people and get ten answers. For my money, Americana is the more sober side of country. If country music is the party with your friends, Americana is paying the bar tab. Americana also employs a judicious use of instrumentation and could never be accused of being overproduced. James McMurtry is Americana. Kieran Kane is Americana. Jason Eady is, for this record, anyway, Americana.
But the Americana versus Country debate is moot. Regardless of how you choose to categorize it, this is one kickass record.
Wild Eyed Serenade feels as if it was crafted by an older, more experienced songwriter, someone who has seen most of life and now feels the need to pass along some fatherly thoughts and advice. Self-produced by Eady, you can hear the intelligence of the man behind the music through the perfectly performed vocal performances and the never-an-instrument-out-of-place arrangements.
Speaking of vocals and instruments, fans of the band’s live shows will appreciate that the folks you see on stage with Jason, the Wayward Apostles, who are Scott Davis on guitar, Jordan Kiener on bass, and Kenny Smith on percussion, also play on the record. Now that's a tight band!
As for the songs, the standout for me is “Back to Jackson,” a Ray-Wylie-like romp with a wailing harmonica, a pounding backbeat, and a soulful vocal performance. When Eady sings “God don’t make me go back to Jackson, sky turns black every time I do,” I don’t know why he can’t go back to Jackson — maybe he’s on the run from the law, maybe from a woman — but I desperately want to help the guy, even though I suspect his fate is pretty much sealed.
Eady’s voice is strong, easily capturing the melacholy needed for songs like “Forgive Me” and belting it out in up tempo songs like “Unsteady Ground.” I can report, too, that the harmony vocals that Eady fans have grown accustomed to are alive and well on the stunningly beautiful “Walking in Jerusalem,” which closes out the record with a glorious flourish.
I highly recommend that you sit back with your favorite sippin’ whiskey, put on Wild Eyed Serenade, and have a few with Jason Eady. Your eyes and ears will open to the true sound of Americana from a young man who is musically wise beyond his years.
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