One of the things that stands out about country music is the story telling of its songs. It’s a sad state of affairs when artists today start to worry more about selling number one hits than they are about staying true to the story telling nature of the genre. That’s not the case with Jason Charles Miller, the latest artist to sign with Render Records in Nashville. He released his first album on the label on July 4th, and the Hollywood-based country singer is staying true to the genre – putting together an album of story telling songs on “Natural Born Killer.”
With the rise of rock infused country music, Jason might just be the hottest new thing to hit the scene. While he doesn’t dress or act much like Luke Bryan or Blake Shelton, he still put together one of the hidden gems of country music this year.
The 12-track album kicks off with “Devil’s Whiskey,” a song filled with banjo and a rock-guitar feel. It’s a great way to introduce country fans to Jason’s sound and image- which is country but still his own stylev. While it might not be the strongest pick for a future single from the record, that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. It still is, and it shows off his songwriting, but it isn’t the ultimate of what the album has to offer fans.
The next track on the album is one of my favorites from Jason’s catalog. “You Get What You Pay For” isn’t exactly brand new for fans of Jason, (it appeared on HBO’s hit series “True Blood”), but it’s still ne of the strongest on his album. It’s a gritty song about, quite obviously, getting what you pay for. It’s the first song I’d recommend for country fans wondering what Jason is all about. The song, co-written by Jason with Jon Nite and Dave Rivers, will get you singing along pretty quickly before you even notice you’re doing it. It was his first solo recording for country music, and it’s still one of his strongest to date.
The third track “Love Ain’t Leaving You” might at first glance look like one of those required love songs that every artist has on each record, but don’t judge a book by its cover. Yes, it is a love song but there’s no real cheese factor in this one. That’s one of the great things about the album – nothing ever feels like a been-there-done-that that some artists have on their albums lately. The lyrics resemble something country legend Ronnie Dunn might have recorded if he heard it first. “There’s another ‘For Sale’ sign, just a block away from me. I saw ‘em moving out last week, and I don’t have to ask why.”
Another stand-out track on the record is “Here To Kill The Pain.” It’s your classic country feel, which is a very welcome relief in the world of pop-country madness. It’s a track that proves his country cred, a depressing song about trying to forget about losing someone. Think of a modern-day Waylon or a Merle track for this one.
The title track to the album is an interesting track, co-written by Jason with Driver Williams from Eric Church‘s band, and Drew Smith. It builds up dramatically from the start and Jason shows off his vocals in the chorus to “Natural Born Killer.” It’s a song that makes me wonder why no attention has been made for how country Jason’s voice truly is. It’s one of the better tracks on the record, and one that really does shine.
Other excellent tracks on the record vinclude “The Way You Still Want Me,” current single “Up To Me,” and “Raise A Little Hell With An Angel.” “The Way You Still Want Me” should be a stand-out in his live show, and “Up To Me” along with “Raise A Little Hell With An Angel” should keep Jason’s fans happy.
There’s no track that fits into the bubblegum pop-country mold – but that’s something that he would never do. It’s a solid album filled with real songs with real stories, something that country music used to always be about. While Taylor Swift, The Band Perry or Luke Bryan fans might not enjoy “Natural Born Killer” the way its supposed to be enjoyed; country fans looking for more in today’s music will. Jason’s first effort with Render Records is a solid one, and one that needs to be heard.
“Natural Born Killer” is full of Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard flavors. In a country world worried about chart placement rather than the art, Jason’s album is the perfect fit to bring country back to its roots. The album is out on iTunes and Amazon right now.
RATING: 9.5 out of 10.
DOWNLOAD: You Get What You Pay For, Here To Kill The Pain, Natural Born Killer.