“I’m coming home,” wails Oklahoma’s Jared Deck on his rockabilly-in-the-heartland single “17 Miles,” premiering exclusively below. From his self-titled debut, out May 6th, it’s a song about how our roots can sometimes become shackles, and how a rural American existence is nearly impossible to escape — and even if you make it out, its glory and grit will haunt you for life. Just ask John Mellencamp.
“I was a farm kid in an oilfield town of 1,200 people,” Deck tells Rolling Stone Country. “Coming from a place like that, dreams seem impossible. As a teenager, my dream was to leave Oklahoma and never look back. The day I worked up the nerve to go, I had a flat tire just seventeen miles down the road. Never got any further than that. The song tells that story: how the heartland pushes you out and sucks you back in.”
Deck held tenure as a pianist at a local church, something that comes through loud and clear on “17 Miles,” which is as playful on the keys as it is on the spirals of pure rock ‘n’ roll guitar, evoking everything from Jerry Lee Lewis to J. Roddy Walston and the Business and, naturally, Mellencamp. There are certainly echoes of artists like Texas’ Alejandro Escovedo and songs like his raucous “Castanets,” defined as “Americana” for the way they blend and bend everything from blues to roots to cowpunk into something more interested in breaking strings and blowing out speakers than softly chirping along. The comparison makes sense: Deck calls Escovedo his “hero.”
Produced by Wes Sharon, who has worked with the likes of John Fullbright, Parker Millsap and the Turnpike Troubadours, Deck’s debut wrestles with all sides of the American dream. In fact, there’s the aptly named, Springsteen-esque track “American Dream,” that dissects all angles of the hamster-on-a-wheel race towards a future that often doesn’t exist; and the rugged ballad “Unusually Blessed,” about a struggling father who has to choose between the duty of parenthood and a job on the oilfields. Deck sings about the heartland with the power of someone who has seen both its peril and promise, and not just imagined an idealized, cinematic scape that exists in only Brooklyn studios or Hollywood treatments.
“To me, this album is the story of where I’m from,” Deck says. “It’s an honest look at our triumphs and our failures, our compassion and our duplicity. I believe the sun rises every day for a reason. I haven’t always been a success, but I work at it. I’m not always the best man, but I try. And I didn’t always love Oklahoma, but it’s home.”