Today’s been one of those rainy, gray ones. In my mind, that makes it the best of days. Instead of falling leaves all the burnt colors of Fall, we’ve daily visits by buckets of raindrops and the occasional surprise clap of thunder. Instead of being clobbered with sunshine with the season switch, I can pretend it’s a sweater’y day in Portland. The air conditioner has eased up and my candle is sending over its best cinnamon-vanilla wafts. On my mind? Pie. I’ve taken a break from the four Frank Sinatra albums I slipped and fell into today (judge if you must) and put on a different kind of soundtrack, Jay William Henderson’s magnificent The SunWill Burn Our Eyes. Not the streaming bandcamp laptop variety, either. There’s no wrestling with tinny speakers here. This is campfire-warm vinyl, the one to match the mellow mood of this space. After all, he’s got a voice that makes more sense in this setting, this season. Ol’ Blue Eyes can wait.
I didn’t learn until a few days ago that the singer-songwriter had another album in him. But, without any real fanfare whatsoever, a message was sent out that, yes, he’d some songs he’d conjured up, songs he wanted pretty badly to share. After spending some time in Nashville, he’d returned to Utah, spending days on end writing and singing songs in the desert. Who knew? The long and short of it? He’s trying to raise the requisite funds to get these songs, a whole album of them, to those who would like to hear it. Call me crazy, but I’d imagine there’s plenty out there who’d like to hear it.
You see, he’s got a certain kind of world-weariness about him. His songs come out smooth, but not overly so. There’s sun-drenched dust scattered through verses and half empty bottles of easily accessible Bulleit in the shadows. His tales belong to troubadours … cowboys with a past … wearied wanderers. Throw in a harmonica and some chaw and this is the stuff of a forgotten—but loved—Western. “Lonely Man” or “Let The Sail Be Your Guide” will end up on the opening credits of a black-and-white Johnny Depp something-or-other someday, mark my words. Perhaps I get a little to close to over-romanticizing? Eh, that’ll happen.
If he raises $6,500 or more in the next 24 days, the album will come out by early next year. If he doesn’t, chances are good that it won’t. Fans are in the driver’s seat on this one, though. He’s about a third of the way there, but there’s no time for standing on the sidelines, folks.
(For what it’s worth, I’d go with the $50 contribution. Not only do you get the new album once it comes out, but you get a double-vinyl copy of his last album, which goes down perfectly with your rainy days, as I said before. And. And! If he goes above and beyond the intended fundraising mark by $3K, a vinyl version of the album will get pressed, and you’ll get that, too, no questions asked! I, for one, am hoping for that last part. Hoping hard and crossing digits.)
You know, I’m a freelance writer. Given the absolute freedom to write whatever I wanted to (and still survive financially), I think I’d like to have a go at just writing about music, telling the stories attached to those who’ve no choice but to create the songs they hear in their heads and hearts. I’d be the observer in the audience, the one in the tour bus trying desperately to fit in with the cooler kids. I say that pretty easily, but I can’t back it up, not entirely.
I can’t really be objective about Jay and the music he makes. Ask me why I like it and I couldn’t tell you. I can’t rightly say why I went to countless Band ofAnnuals shows when I was a Salt Lake City downtowner, but I did. I went to last minute coffee house shows when I heard about them and I parked it at his Kilby shows, too. Bought his last album and sent it to friends who owned ears I trusted, because I wanted them to hear what I heard. I can’t say why I like it, but that doesn't really matter, either. I don't need to. I get to exist at this amazing time in our music history when I can help assure those music-makers I like most keep making music. Labels? Who needs those, anyway?
Give it some thought. If you can help this get made, please, please, please do. It’s what will keep you warm once the cold weather hits. As for me, the rain is starting all over again. I have to go give it my full attention for a spell. Pardon me.