My first brush with, for want of a better term, ‘classic country’ was when Jim Reeves topped the UK charts in the sixties with hits like ‘Because Of You’ and ‘Distant Drums’ before and after his early death.
Jason James of Texas City is much younger than me but ,judging by the sentimental crooning and squeakily clean-cut image, ‘Gentleman Jim’ also made an impression on him.
Very little about the ten songs on this album departs substantially from the template established by Reeves. This is the voice of a diehard romantic constantly battling against the sorrow and heartache caused by love. The crying pedal steel guitar, weeping fiddle and plaintive piano add substance to the sweetness of his pain.
In between, We’re Gonna Honky Tonk Tonight and Cajun tinged Cry On The Bayou jolly things up little because James wants us to know that ”I like to dance between the light and the dark.”
And it’s worth noting that even the gloom never drifts into anything darker than poetic melancholy. Many songs have elements of humour and the pun of substituting ‘tears’ for ‘years’ in the album’s title (and opening tune) indicates that none of this is not meant to be taken too seriously.
He takes the slings and arrows like a man although one song that has a less than chivalrous message. Move A Little Closer has elements that have more in common with early Johnny Cash by ruefully chastising a procrastinating woman with lines such as “loving you is like sleeping on the tracks and waiting around to die”.
Otherwise, just like the gallant Jim Reeves of old, Jason James is resigned to making the best of things with as much dignity as the situation allows.
Jason James’ website