Who can really explain why certain artists rise to the top and others fail to even capture one person’s attention? In a just world you’d think it would be based solely on talent level, but between PR firms, marketing techniques and publicists, it’s a bit harder to explain why certain artists are able to capture peoples’ attention more so than others.
It’s not exactly like we’ve only seen a resurgence of traditional country music come into fruition just recently. While hard to find on the radio (although we’re making progress), traditional country music is very alive and well, make no mistake. As I stated in my recent Kelsey Waldon review though, it’s not just enough to play country music these days. You have to have something more.
It’s really hard to explain why former thrash-metal singer Cody Jinks has amassed such a large and loyal following over the past few years other than he’s just got “it”. The “it” that comes to so very few singers and is indeed a gift of the highest honor. It’s not enough to just have “it” though, you have to know how to use it. Cody Jinks knows and understands country music extremely well, and on his latest album, I’m Not The Devil he uses his talents to make his best album yet.
Not only personal, I’m Not The Devil feels like a very redemptive album not just for Cody, but for anyone who’s had their past demons that still come back to haunt them. “The Same” explores the reconnection of two former lovers and how the male narrator’s feelings for his lover haven’t gone away while hers have. The heavenly combination of steel guitar and fiddles make this track lighter than it really is. This is a heavy opener. Those demons are explored again on the title track which might be the album’s best. “No Words” is another darker tale of a man who openly confesses to his lover that he’d be nowhere without her.
Of course, while not every track directly references dealing with past demons, each song seemingly comes from a personal place for Cody. The upbeat “Chase That Song” tells of Cody’s journey into music while “No Guarantees” provides insight from Cody of where is in his life and what he’s learned along the way so far.
While a large part of this album finds Cody reflecting on the past, he also offers some incredible insight on the present as well. “Give All You Can” will blow you away by Cody’s vocals on this song as well as the message from Cody straight to the listener to live life to its fullest. The beauty is that it never gets preachy, and instead is just a song that comes from the heart. That’s a sign of great writing and an overall excellent song. “Grey” and “Vampires” are probably the best tracks here and deal with finding the best in life despite the hardships and never letting go of those dreams despite us continuously growing older and possibly less inclined to chase those dreams.
Part of the beauty of an album is when it includes cover songs that you can’t tell are cover songs. Merle Haggard passed away in April of this year, but I bet if he heard Cody’s rendition of “The Way I Am” then he’d probably stop thinking that Sturgill Simpson is the ONLY good singer left to listen to. “Church At Gaylor Creek” is another one of those songs that deals with reflecting back on the past and again fits perfectly with Cody’s baritone as well as the overall album.
I’m not quite sure I’m Not The Devil reaches the peaks that Adobe Sessions had with “David” and “Birds”, nor is it truly ground-breaking in style, but there’s no doubt that I’m Not The Devil is Cody’s most complete album yet. Full of intelligent insight and a great traditional country sound, it’s an album that can truly call itself a great one. Despite being thirteen tracks long, it never feels like it’s dragging on. Instead, it’s an album that’s full of reflection, redemption and great life advice coming straight from the heart. In other words, three chords and the truth.
On “Chase That Song”, Cody Jinks states clearly in the chorus:
“I set out to chase that song and now it’s chasing me”
Well Cody, all I can say is that if these songs are what’s driving your passion, run Forrest,