If you’ve ever wondered what the inside of a leftover solo cup at a Western-themed bar sounds like, look no further than Turning It Up from the Jay Clark Band. Before banishing it due to the aforementioned incendiary commentary, keep in mind that it is a sincere critique – this one’s for the barflies and the good ol’ boys who can’t stand the direction the CMAs are headed. Sounding like something straight out of the Friday nite showcase at the local dive bar, Turning It Up accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do – provide the soundtrack to a night of drinking with your buddies you’ve had for years.
In terms of providing a trip down memory lane, Turning It Up has it all from Skynyrd-esque guitar solos, warbling electric organs, rain sound effects – you name it. The record’s sheer honesty is so prevalent that one can’t fault it, no matter how galvanizing it may be for the non-country listeners. The track “Backroads” perhaps best personifies this sentiment. One who has never lived the life and times known by a drunken rural town balladeer would be utterly misplaced from the narrative in the song, though nonetheless entertained. However, the Jay Clark Band does find universality on their latest record. “Coming Back To You” couldn’t be a more earnest proclamation of infatuation, no matter which generation of Hank Williams is your favorite.
One of the most interesting facets of the Jay Clark Band is how unabashedly personal the lyrics develop throughout the record. Most country acts would shudder at the thought of name-dropping a non-famous friend that isn’t their gal. Not Jay Clark, for he’s got friends in low places, and good ones by the sound of it. In particular “Hometown” serves as a roll-call for these familiar folks to the band, with a closing track that puts the Jay Clark Band in a territory as close as to radio-friendly country as one can get without entirely losing their edge. Listen, if nothing else, for how astonishingly earnest Turning It Up truly is.