I have never been in a honkytonk (I don’t know if it’s one word or two, even). I’ve been in very few restaurants that offered complimentary peanuts without irony, my only cowboy hat was a gift from someone who bought it in Northern California, and my first real exposure to country music was the film Walk the Line. The first time I saw someone play pedal steel live was at a Lucero concert. What I’m saying is, I am probably not the individual who can discern what makes “real” country music.
With that caveat out of the way, I’m pretty sure that Jason Eady is as authentic as it gets. Listen to the walking bass line and simple pedal steel crying on “One, Two…Many”, and a begrudging (or eager!) smile is sure to come to your face. Eady has a clear voice with plenty of twang but none of the staged warbling quality of certain pop country artists. The instrumentation is clean and deliberate; you may not hear a new and innovative sound on this record, but the traditional approach really allows Eady’s songwriting to shine.
Several of his tracks do a fantastic job of capturing the mature nature of love lost. Bittersweet and melancholy instead of raw and bleeding, Eady’s songs are more for the person who knows how badly they’ve messed up instead of the ones searching for a reason why. “We Just Might Miss Each Other” is a fun romp through the always-pleasant activity of knowing your ex will be at the bar but going anyway, and the following title track “Daylight & Dark” is the perfect somber and sober follow-up to a night that didn’t go how you had hoped, wanted, or expected. Speaking as someone who has wandered home at dawn plenty of times, one eye blearily closed against the rising sun, more often than not what you need is a quiet voice murmuring to you and not the raging of electric guitars:
“There ain’t no conversation between the daylight and the dark,
It’s a worn out situation when you don’t know where you are”
Daylight & Dark is a solid album with a few tracks that are sure to get stuck in your head, and a few more than are going to get you stuck in there too. It may not be as gritty as some of our normal 9b fare, but sometimes the wound stings worse when you clean it. What a terrible metaphor.