Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Hell yeah! This is the real deal outlaw/honky tonk country. No bullshit, no oversinging, no singing about stupid stuff. Just some heartfelt country music that broaches subjects such as being down and out, bad relationships, too much drinking, and flirting with the devil. Jarrod Birmingham’s voice is the quintessential outlaw country voice. A little worn and scratchy, but still tuneful and harmonic. A hard mix to get right but Jarrod has it. He is an authentic Texas cowboy and bull rider. His bio states, “he has enough pins and plates in his body to make it difficult to get through an airport metal detector.” Legit!
Birmingham’s voice sounds at times like The Possum himself. George Jones. If you listen to Once Upon A Time (Track 2) you would think Old George was singing this number. A nice song about being down:
Once upon a time in a land called rock bottom,
There lived a man who’s all but forgotten,
It didn’t take him long once he started falling,
To become the king of the land called rock bottom.
He let the whiskey take control Let the anger taint his soul,
Until the demons took over his life,
All the scars he can’t hide the whiskey stains on his life
Finally left him it was far beyond his time.
The genuine article right there. You can’t write it and sing it that way unless you lived it.
All of the songs are pure country magic, but there is another standout. Birmingham does a pristine country version of Running On Empty (Track 13). Completely sublime. He took a song that was already coutry leaning and turned it on its head. It totally makes you forget that this is a cover. Jackson who?
The song Devil On My Shoulder (Track 9) is another great outlaw country number about the pull of doing right versus wrong. Like a devil on his shoulder telling him to do the wrong things. I think we can all relate to that. We all have that pull of right vs wrong and good vs evil. Sometimes good does not always win. Listen to the song, it will fill you in. And it also has some really nice fiddle parts too.
This one came out of nowhere but it will be around for while. I hadn’t heard the name Jarrod Birmingham before today, but I have a feeling I will be hearing a lot more. This is real country music. Accept no substitutes.