Although releasing his first records as far back as 2003; Jason ‘Jay’ Byrd has been, at best an intermittent recording artist in his own rite; although he’s appeared on plenty of other artists records and toured constantly too.
I’m not sure if this reference means anything to North American readers; but when I played this CD for the first time Byrd reminded me of all those long haired and bearded singer-songwriters and laid back Country Rockers (normally from the West Coast), wearing loon pants and Converse who regularly appeared on The Old Grey Whistle Test after filling the pages of Melody Maker the previous week … both of which meant a trip to Herdman’s Record Stall or Oz Records was in order on the next Saturday.
It turns out Jay Byrd is actually from North Carolina; but that matters not a jot; as his finished product is without boundaries.
Daydream Daze opens the album via fuzzy electric guitar before settling down to a pedestrian pace which allows Byrd to profess his love to his ‘one and only’ via
‘words I wrote thinking of you and the end result has made me smile every time I’ve heard it.
The pace barely picks up; but that again ‘matters not a jot’ ….. Byrd lets us into his heart and you don’t need a loud soundtrack for such a delicate operation.
Track #2 the dark At Home Again, sounds uncannily like Lynard Skynard doing a ballad in a club; such is the construction of the song and the way Byrd sings it …. hanging onto the last note of each verse as if his life depends on it.
A glorious mandolin solo kick starts; or should that be ‘gently pushes’ Days Roll By and is eventually joined by some delicious harmonies and a military beat from drummer Tim Haney; which combine for a song that could easily become one of my ‘sounds of the Summer.’
Not for the first time reviewing an album; a lot of names that could be influences spring to mind; but this time that does a great disservice to Jay Byrd, who has put in the hours over 20+ years to come up with his very own; and what will become a genuinely ‘distinctive’ style …… give I Should Know or Have Mercy to hear what I mean.
It’s fair to say that I’ve heard a lot of albums in this vein over the last 15+ years of reviewing; but occasionally ….. and this is a case in point; there’s a ‘special something’ that I can’t explain in words …. but has gripped my attention right from the get go.
I love Byrds’ imaginative way of writing; I presume some songs (Anna Lynn? Dreaming My Life Away?) are based on real life events and people; but Jay Byrd has a magical way with words and a melody to make songs like these (and others) sound very personal to the listener too.
As I type I’m actually in a very good mood ….. life is good again; but that doesn’t stop me appreciating songs; regardless of how subtle they are; but talk about depression and heartbreak … of which I know both too well.
So I’m going down that path for my Favourite Song here; although I’m not sure which of Nobody Knows (Who You Are) and/or Losers Like Me I prefer; but I do know that one day I will seek solace in one or the other ….. and plenty of others out there will think Byrd is writing about them too.
Oh to be 16 through 18 again, when I could have proudly walked around the school buildings with this LP proudly on show under my arm for all to see; and the cognoscenti having to stop me and ask about it (King for a Day!).