September 19, 2018
Jason Eady – I Travel On
The first thing that strikes you on Eady’s seventh release is the quality of the playing. On the opening track, “I Lost My Mind In Carolina”, a real steering wheel tapper, you hear his band fire up. The album was recorded live and acoustic. Such a platform means that fiddle and banjo are immediately important in the mix. This along with the lyrical content takes you back a decade or two for how chart popular Country used to sound. Eady may be new to you but he’s been around a long time and garners much respect from his musical peers.
“Happy Man” is in stark counterpoint to many of the songs here where struggle and moving on are the theme. With the type of sentimentality that only Country music can ever feel confident to cover we hear of a contended life with many blessings of marriage and family. “Calaveras County” (in California) hits a familiar rhythm and his wife and solo artist, Courtney Patton, joins him on the first of a number of harmonies. The story has its origins about when his father broke down short of petrol in the middle of nowhere. His salvation came in the form of a hippy in a multi-coloured VW camper van that took him to fetch the fuel. This story of kindness has stuck with him ever since.
“She Had To Run” slows the album and is reminiscent of Alison Krauss and Union Station with a tale of a woman thumbing a lift to escape an abusive partner. Fiddle and dobro intertwine in a haunting and melancholy duet as his masterful baritone recounts this getaway with a passenger in peril and distress.
“Pretty When I Die” is a bluegrass outing and sumptuous husband and wife harmonies sit on top of the hoedown. As the band take their solos he extols the virtue of hard work and living life to the full to avoid the ignominy of dying pretty! “I Travel On” is his most memorable vocal and takes us on the road with this lilting ballad from Monterey to Richmond:
“I’m out here searching,
For cities made of gold,
I don’t know what is real,
Just some stories I’ve been told,
Maybe someday I’ll find out,
Somewhere on this road I travel on”
This is a beautiful authentic Country album of considerable lyrical and musical craft. I can understand the affection that follows this Texan troubadour. Sadly, given the industry’s predilection for formulaic Country Pop music purveyed by 30 somethings males in Stetsons and blue jeans then this won’t be anywhere near a Country Music Association nomination for album of the year anytime soon but maybe that tells you how fabulous it is.