On a later episode of his podcast Cocaine and Rhinestones, Tyler Mahan Coe discusses the question of authenticity in country music. (btdubs, you should absolutely listen to the first season if and when you've caught up with our podcast.) Mahan Coe observes that being from a place doesn't give you authenticity in country music. In fact, it's sincerity that counts far more. You don't need to have had a hard life to sing -- or relate to -- country music. You just need to care about what you're singing. I agree.
When people ask me the kind of music I write about, I describe it as country music written by people who were punk in their 20s and then mellowed out.
Jesse Daniel, then, is an ideal candidate for this blog. Daniel found refuge in music during a tumultuous youth. Daniel's early experiences playing drums in punk bands in California soon introduced him to heroin. In his years of struggling with habit, country music was one of the few beacons leading Daniel to a healthier life.
Daniel's debut album is a raucous celebration of the high and low points of life. Daniel is submitting himself as a nominee for the "Honky Tonk Male" category for next year's Ameripolitan Awards, so that's the descriptor I'll go with. This self-titled album is as sly as it is agile. You could have yourself an amazing time going out and dancing your ass off at one of Daniel's sure-to-be fantastic shows, but the true reward is listening to the lyrics. Daniel looks back on the hard times but is not a member of the sad bastard song club (yet.) He acknowledges the less savory parts of his past without apology or regret. Instead, Daniel strikes me as a person who savors all of the pleasures in life -- alongside of anything else that's happening. The final song on the album, "Looks Like Rain," demonstrates Daniel's propensity for introspection -- perhaps a hint at a more contemplative sequel. But above all is, in spite of everything that's happened in the past, it looks like there's a bright and smooth road ahead for Daniel.
Jesse Daniel -- Official, Facebook, Purchase from Jesse Daniel, Amazon