There is a time and a place for every artist, where their expressions are what the world happens to be thirsting for, and they have the right potion in the perfect proportions and of the correct persuasion to have their music prick the right nerve. Though there are plenty of artists making more traditionally-styled country at the moment, there is still a gaping hole waiting to be filled by an artist that won’t veer into left field from boredom with country, or careen too close to the mainstream to attempt to find some commercial acceptance.
Though Cody Jinks has been around for a good while and is reaching well into his 30’s, it just might be his time at the moment, for however long that time might last.
His new album I’m Not The Devil is an ambitious, unwavering, slow and plodding volley of songwriting body blows that makes no apologies, incorporates no compromises, and gives no quarter to those with open hearts that love to listen to music that makes them swoon with one emotional onslaught after another, all served in a down home deep-fried unapologetically country style.
Where previous efforts from Cody Jinks would maybe have a few songs that were ready for regional radio acceptance with sanguine attitudes and sensible production, or were more distinctly rock than country, I’m Not The Devil is Cody Jinks leaving it all out there and burying his hands deep into his country roots, worrying more about how honest he’s being with himself and the inspiration of the song than if anyone wants to hear it. And aside from one track, it’s all expressed in half-time or waltz-time sludgy power punches, stringing out an underlying tension and sense of dusk throughout this record, except for the moments he decides to let a little bit of light shine through.
Critics and music writers love to talk about things such as “subtlety” and “nuance” in songwriting, when really these are plaudit crutches that are just indefinable enough that they can be thrown out there for flattery without anyone calling the bluff. But a song like “The Same,” which speaks to serious post-relationship heartache without ever having to come out and say it, is about the perfect example of nuance in songwriting one could proffer up—writing that stimulates the brain, and stirs up emotions to a greater degree compared to when it’s all spelled out right there for you.
Multiple times on this record, Jinks finds new ways to express timeless feelings, like the regret in the title track, or the sense of broken dreams in “Vampires.” Cody Jinks is not screwing around here, and even when the steel guitar and pounding bass are silenced in “Grey,” the emotional toll remains. Only the upbeat and enjoyable “Chase That Song” and the sweet “She’s All Mine” allow the listener to come up for air during the execution of this album.
Though many will sing the praises of Cody’s cover of Merle Haggard’s “The Way I Am” written by Sonny Throckmorton, which deserves any compliments thrown its way, don’t gloss over the cover from songwriter Billy Don Burns of “Gaylor Creek Church.” Regular touring buddy Whitey Morgan once professed to Saving Country Music that every one of his records would feature a Billy Don Burns song because, “That’s just the way it is.” It appears that love for Billy Don has also taken grip of Cody.
True country music fans right now don’t just want good music, they want reassurance that good country music will continue to remain a part of music moving forward. Too often have they had their heart broken. Too often they’ve seen worthy talent pushed aside or put out to pasture, or put their hope in an artist who ultimately lets them down. Cody Jinks started in rock, and we can’t rule out entirely that he won’t veer back in that direction in the future, even if for a moment. But for now, Cody Jinks and I’m Not The Devil is exact shot of country-infused goodness that real country fans need.
Two Guns Up (9/10)
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