By Roger Sharman
Only reviewing ‘After the Fire’ would have meant I’d have only done half a job.
‘The Wanting’ was released on Friday, one week on from ’After the Fire’. Essentially, they are two halves of the same record, twenty-two tracks recorded in the space of twenty days down at the Sonic Ranch recording studio, in the Texas border town of Tornillo, approximately thirty miles east of El Paso, and previously the location used for ‘The Adobe Sessions’ album.
The two albums reflect the life of Cody Jinks, ‘After the Fire’ centres around Cody’s home life and ‘The Wanting’ centres on the trials and tribulations of the life of this recording artist on the road.
As with ‘After the Fire’, Cody has sat down with the likes of Josh Morningstar, Ward Davis, Tennessee Jet, Caspar McWade, Jamie Richards, and his wife Rebecca to write these songs. The guys went into the studio had a lot of fun and more than a little soul searching. The result of which is a collection of songs, that will stand the test of time, and could be considered career defining. I’ve always wondered if the fruits of this previous excursion to this part of the world, ‘Adobe Sessions’, could ever be topped. I’m still not sure if that question has been answered, but collectively these two albums are pretty close to achieving that.
I’ve asked the question to the Facebook group, the Blacksheep – what is your preference between the two albums, and there have been two standard answers, firstly “it’s Cody, how can you choose, they are all great” and I’m in total agreement. The other answer was “It’s Cody, dude, the answer changes daily or depending on the mood I’m in”. I subscribe to that answer too, I’ve written before of the emotion that his voice and the music evoke, and this album is equally as powerful as what I’m now going to refer to as part one, ‘After the Fire’.
Before I move onto the songs, I want to address the album cover, the two-headed Wolf. Now this is really significant, referenced in ‘Which one I feed’, black and white wolves, signifying the battle between bad and good, a battle that many of us fight every day. The white head sits above the black, signifying that currently the good is winning but the bad isn’t dead, and will always be a threat.
In my review of part one, I said that ‘Tell em’ What it’s Like’ was kind of a ‘Somewhere Between I love you and I’m Leaving’ follow up, well Josh Morningstar’s ‘The Plea’ expands on this perfectly (and if you are not familiar with Morningstar’s work then I highly recommend you do some homework):
“Mama, this highway’s gonna kill me
And mama, I think my rose is wilting
The kids and her alone while I’m so far away from home
I feel so guilty”
Title track, ‘The Wanting’ kicks the album off in a lively fashion. Featuring Tennessee Jet, who also co-wrote the song. Containing searing fiddle and a throbbing Josh Thompson bass line. It’s a great opener, that has those feet tapping and has a great catch to it, a sure-fire winner to start proceedings.
‘Same Kinda Crazy As Me’ keeps the tempo going in quite a contrast to part one. It’s the first single, and also has a really catchy hook, but that’s a trait of Jinks music, you’ll always find yourself singing along.
‘Never Alone Always Lonely’ sounds like it’s a song straight from a Lynyrd Skynyrd songbook, it’s got ‘That Smell’ if you like. It’s an anthem, that I can picture Van Zant singing in his heyday, before the world was so cruelly robbed of these amazing musicians. So, I find quite apt that Cody Jinks and the Tone Deaf Hippies have just come off the back of a few dates on Skynyrd’s farewell tour. Take a bow once more Chris Claridy for some outstanding playing.
‘Whiskey’, Co-written with Casper McWade and the great Jamie Richards, another of the Texas staples, who’s had at least ten Texas number ones. Claridy wields that guitar like an axe on fire once again.
Like I touched upon earlier, I take my hat off to the quality of writing on both part one and part two, these guys really do know how to construct tunes that will stand the test of time and the musicianship is second to none.
‘Where Angels Fear to Fly’ is another of the faster numbers, the fiddle at the beginning is quite outstanding, I’m presuming it’s Billy Contreras once more wowing us with his talent with the bow and fiddle. This is another TN Jet Co-write. Like many of the songs on the two albums Dave Colvin’s drums start the track off. It contains one of my favourite Jinks lyrics:
“I’ve drank myself ungrateful and I found myself unwise
But I’m still alive
I’m still alive”
‘Which One I Feed’, written by Jaida Dreyer and Josh Morningstar, is a tale of different beings living inside of us all, the twin-headed wolf, our inner demons fighting, bad versus good, black versus white. I really relate to the sentiment in this song. I have deep connections with a lot of this guy’s songs, I think everyone can relate to so much of Cody’s catalogue.
‘A Bite of Something Sweet’ really hits the spot for me. This is the epitome of Country for me. I damn near choked on my coffee when I first heard this song. This is Cody Jinks singing like nobody else ever has been able to or ever will be able to. The whole band absolutely kills it on this song. Mrs Rebecca Jinks take a bow for your co-writing here, credit where it’s due, and you’ve just helped create one of the great songs.
Speaking of great songs oh, look, here comes another, Josh Morningstar’s ‘The Plea’, check out his version, it’s gorgeous, just like this version. They are both completely different in style, which makes it easy to appreciate both versions equally. It’s a song that stays in your head for days, trust me.
‘It Don’t Rain In California’ Morningstar says, “This song, to me, is very Vern Gosdin(ish), with the theme of rain and the melody line and the chord structure’. This song has got a 90’s country ballad feel to it to me.
Clint Park, Greg Jones and Ward Davis share the writing duties with Cody on ‘Wounded Mind’.
“I’d tell ’em all I really ain’t that special
And I’d cry and yell leave me the hell alone
And I hate it that I have to try to be cool all the time
I’m just a guy, with a wounded mind”
WOW, that is such exceptional writing. It’s one of those tear-jerkers Cody keeps recording. This song I find to be really intense, I’ve certainly felt the emotion, in my life and it’s most definitely present in the song, it hits home.
‘Ramble’ is a song that Chris Hennessee wrote. It’s dreamy, it’s a piano based ballad there’s some interesting percussion going on in the background, it’s another of the songs about the struggles of being on the road. Claridy steps up to the plate with a fine guitar solo, making his strings cry, which suits the mood of the song perfectly.
Finishing the album off in an equally quirky fashion as part one’s wonderful ‘Tonedeaf Boogie’, ‘The Raven and the Dove’ is a song co-written with Tennessee Jet surrounding a conversation he had with Cody, concerning his Raven and Dove tattoos, and what they represent to Cody.
I have a feeling that song is going to be a big live favourite, not sure if it’s even been done live yet.
Anyway, I’m out of superlatives, this double album is quite simply stunning. I must admit I’m beginning to find myself a bit repetitive here, but that’s out of necessity, it’s THAT GOOD!!