Review: Jaret Ray Reddick – ‘Just Woke Up’

The direct line between rock and metal musicians and country music is more obvious than you might expect. Is there anything more gritty and “metal” than Johnny Cash’s line in ‘Folsom Prison Blues’; “…I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die…”? If rock and metal are truly about rebelling against the man, is there anything more rebellious than country legend Willie Nelson relocating to Texas from Tennesee in the seventies and bucking the trend (and the Nashville establishment) by getting full control of all his musical output, meaning he could release his seminal ‘Red Headed Stranger’ album the way that he wanted? You want “rock star” behaviour? How about country legend George Jones jumping on a ride-on lawnmower and driving to the liquor store after his wife hid his car keys in an attempt to stop him from leaving the house? Not once, but twice. None-more-metal than that. But, in all honesty, the connection is more to do with the storytelling; the tales of outsiders, and flawed characters, of struggles with addiction, and ultimately tales of forgiveness and redemption. Put like that, it’s certainly not worth the raised eyebrows that usually greets the news of a rock or metal musician “gone country”, and the latest rock musician to dip his toes into the murky waters of the c-word is none other than Bowling For Soup frontman Jaret Reddick.

Released under his full name Jaret Ray Reddick, ‘Just Woke Up’ is refreshingly short on many of the bog-standard tropes often found in country music: God, guns, and the good old US of A (or mentions of the “red, white, and blue”). The faithful imagery of trucks does appear however on ‘My Truck Up and Left Me’ which runs Queen’s ‘I’m In Love With My Car’ a close second in the man-infatuated-with-his-automobile stakes; “…like everything else I’ve loved in my life/my dog, my memory, and two ex-wives/my truck up and left me/bеcause I missed a payment or two”. The difference between Reddick and countless purveyors of bro-country is that he knows a song about a truck is better played for laughs, so that’s exactly what he does. And in a nutshell, that’s the appeal of ‘Just Woke Up’. It’s warm and charming, and ultra-witty, but most of all it is genuine and made with love rather than someone jumping on a bandwagon.

The storytelling on display is perfect. The laidback opening track ‘Way More Country’ sets the tone, and – thanks to the crystal clear enunciation from Reddick – the lyrics really pop out; “I sing in a punk rock band/and I know every word to that Eminem song “Stan”/and I’ve got about a hundred and ten tattoos/but I’m way more country than you”. Uncle Kracker (of ‘Follow Me’ fame) helps out on co-vocals and almost steals the show during the outro with the line; “He rhymed “Tesla” with “wrestler”/I fuckin’ love it”. A simple, well-written song that many will be able to make an instant connection with. ‘One of the Good Ones’ quickly follows on and is all about the soulful, weeping slide guitar throughout, and the gentle twang running in the background. ‘Songs About Texas’ does what it says on the tin, and Reddick is happy to pay tribute to his home state with an ode born out of love and affection, and a sense of pride. The sense of humour is still prevalent throughout and it’s easy to imagine this one going down a storm back home…or anywhere in the world where it’s played for that matter. The mid-section of the album is where ‘Just Woke Up’ excels: ‘Royal Family’ is a simply gorgeous ballad-of-sorts, the snappy ‘Doggonit!’ is a total riot complete with whip-crack handclaps, hoedown pacing, and very sharp lyrics, ‘Drunk As It Takes (feat Frank Turner)’ might just be your new favourite song of the year, ‘You And Beer (feat Cody Canada)’ will get the toes-tapping, and the Elvis-meets-Gene Vincent rock n’ roll sneer of ‘Natalie (feat Stephen Egerton)’ is a great shout for the standout track on the album.

Reddick could easily open for himself when Bowling For Soup performs live, the good-natured songs on ‘Just Woke Up’ are the perfect partner for his main job. So much so that he throws in a few Bowling For Soup covers with hearty countrified renditions of ‘Ohio (Come Back to Texas)’ (which is not only an obvious choice as a cover but an inspired choice), and ‘The Bitch Song’. And like his main job, the debut solo country album from Jaret Ray Reddick is great fun and offers some respite from the perpetual shitstorm of the outside world for a short while.

Review – Dave

Just Woke Up can be streamed on a variety of platforms on this link. Those interested in purchasing digital or physical copies can order on this link.

Find Jaret Reddick online:
Website – https://jaretreddick.com/
Twitter @Jaret2113
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/jaret2113/
TikTok – https://www.tiktok.com/@jaretreddick
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/bowlingforsouptv
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/jaret2113/
UK merch store – https://shop.bandwear.com/collections/jaret-ray-reddick-shop

 

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