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Jason Eady
Anthony Barlich8/10

Jason Eady

Sounds Like: Deceptively unassuming songs crafted from a blend of acoustic instruments, rugged vocals, vintage AM country radio and lyrics culled from a story-filled life

For Fans of: Merle Haggard, Joe Ely, late-night song swaps

Why You Should Pay Attention: Jason Eady's forthcoming self-titled album (out April 21st via Thirty Tigers) is the sixth full-length entry in the Texas-by-way-of-Mississippi singer-songwriter's catalog, so he's not "new" by any means. But Eady deserves a larger audience, especially for such a well-thought album. Heavily steeped in his storyteller lyrical style and cleverly framed by uncluttered, acoustic-rich arrangements, the record breathes with nuance and space. Striving to highlight his own personal creative journey with his new songs, Eady found inspiration in the individuality of legendary artists like Haggard. "I love the way that Merle Haggard wrote, sang, and made records," Eady says. "He covered a lot of musical territory in his albums over the years - from country to swing to jazz and blues - but in the end, they always sounded like Merle Haggard records." The new LP features some killer cameos: the SteelDrivers' Tammy Rogers adds fiddle to "Rain," and Vince Gill contributes harmony vocals to "No Genie in This Bottle."

He Says: "I realized that I spend so much of my time playing acoustically in hotel rooms and back porches but I've never tried to capture that on an album. I wanted the focus of this record to be on the lyrics. I wanted the arrangements to be enough to support the songs and give energy to the music without overpowering the lyrics."

Hear for Yourself: Starting out as an exercise for his (sometimes theme-based) weekly songwriting group, Eady's "Why I Left Atlanta" is a classic "troubles in the rearview mirror" road song. W.H.