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Cody Jinks

Lifers – 2018 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Jason MacNeil

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CDs by Cody Jinks

The cover art of Cody Jinks' latest album shows an elderly man who has been down many a road in his life. That or it's a rendering of Oak Ridge Boys' singer William Lee Golden! Regardless, Jinks doesn't come off as some retro-sounding country artist, but keeps enough sonic Opry-ish meat to make things shine.

Jinks excels at letting the songs lead him along while avoiding tinkering things to death. "Must Be The Whiskey" strolls along without any quirky departures, just a simple pedal steel accenting the already high-quality gem. Meanwhile "Holy Water" is a raggedy, rollicking rock-tinged single, which is steady and solid. Fortunately, Jinks lets the backing female vocalists take it up another notch with a stellar series of closing refrains.

Possibly the crowning achievement here is the toe-tapping "Big Last Name" that would make Alan Jackson green with envy. Clocking a hair under three minutes, Jinks soars on this gold-digging tale, which is bound to have many beers raised in concert. It's a great example of him not getting in the way of the song. A close runner-up is the initially wordy, but Waylon-wailing "Can't Quit Enough," which you simply can't quit after one or six repeated listens.

Another asset for some of the tunes is they appear to have been recorded live off the floor, especially the creepy, crawling "7th Floor." Jinks, not relying on the traditionally ridiculously deep baritone timbre, again lets the backing female vocalists add some weight to the nugget which is thankfully fully fleshed out.

Perhaps the weakest offering is the title track, something that Jinks does on auto-pilot with its lyrics referencing the nine-to-five, blue collar workers still fighting the good fight in a harsh economy. Nor does the ballad about the Rocky Mountain state fare as fine as the earlier efforts. But for the most part it's an album with far, far more hits than misses. To cite one of his earlier band names as an album description, there is no unchecked aggression from Jinks here. It's just a rather stellar 40 minutes of generally great country material. Sounds as if he'll be around for the long haul.