Long Way From Home
Blurring the Lines Between The Old South and The New West.
There’s a very blurred line between what we know as Americana and what we really want to believe is Country Music; not the Hard Rock with a Cowboy hat and a pedal-steel version that fills up the airwaves; but the real heartfelt stuff we associate with the Greats from Hank and George to Vince and Brad.
JD Clayton’s debut album comes fully formed and sits very comfortably in both of those camps.
Serving an apprenticeship playing every instrument at one time or another in his father’s church; Clayton comes at you with a clarity and honesty we don’t hear enough these days.
Coming in at less than a minute and a half, the delightful Hello, Good Morning opens the album with Clayton singing along with only his acoustic guitar and some birdsong, and closes with creaking floorboards.
This is followed by the most commercial song here; American Millionaire has JD being ruefully honest about his ambitions within the Country industry; but there’s a pathos in not just his voice but the arrangement too that sets this way, way apart from the gung-ho swagger I hear on Country Radio. Clayton wants success; but knows it will come from sheer hard work …. and not just pot luck.
For a debut album; the songs and even sequencing are fully formed and incredibly well thought out. Clayton’s idea of a ‘love song’ owes more to Townes and Guy than it does to Toby or Tim; he sings from the heart on Cotton Candy Songs and Different Kind of Simple Life, in a way that will genuinely touch the hearts of listeners who will come back time and time again to listen to a song that could have been written about their own lives.
The Press Release states these songs are from the crossroads where ‘The Old South meets the New West’ and I can’t disagree at all; not least the skewed passion in Long Way From Home or Midnight Special which sounds like it was recorded after a drunken night listening to Hank Williams, Little Feet and John Fogerty on heavy rotation; then there’s the album closer Sleepy Night in Nashville where JD slows things back down to a slow waltz beat, as his voice crackles like he’s on a 1950’s radio broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry. Goldmine is a song that will pass by many listeners the first few times that they play LONG WAY FROM HOME, but one day when the stars align, they will find themselves staring blankly at the speakers wondering where this beautiful missive came from.
It’s been a rare pleasure discovering this album; not least because of two very different songs; that I can’t decide between as my actual Favourite.
Beauty Queen sounds like a first take; where the passion and intensity just can’t be replicated and no amount of twiddling in the booth can replicate that release of tension from the singer/songwriter who was probably directing the other band members with no more than eye contact.
The other is Heartaches After Heartache which will send a shiver down your spine if you’ve ever had a love affair that went sour.
For all his music is very special indeed; I get the feeling that JD Clayton is the type of guy who will sit quietly at his table drinking a Lite Beer and shooting the breeze with anyone around him; then get called on stage and blow those very same minds into the stratosphere!
Released January 27th 2023
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