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Jinks, Cauthen don't disappoint

Constellation Room, Santa Ana, Cal., January 29, 2017

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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ven though it was a late Sunday night show, with Cody Jinks taking the stage past 10, the packed - like sardines, as opener Paul Cauthen accurately put it -Constellation Room was more than ready for some diehard, traditional county music. And Jinks didn't disappoint. Nor did Cauthen.

Drawing liberally from his excellent recent "I'm Not the Devil" album, Jinks appeared to be in a good mood. He didn't brag about how country he is, as some mainstream artists sometimes do, because his credentials were all right there in his songs. There is a darkness to many of Jinks' songs, exemplified by loss of childhood innocence expressed with "Vampires." This is why the heartfelt love song, "She's All Mine," was so welcome. And although "Chase That Song" explores the inherent restlessness in the musical troubadour's life, its upbeat, trucker song-like groove also cleared away a few dark shadows.

Jinks played only a slightly battered acoustic guitar and was backed by a sharp band that also included a steel guitar player. He may sound like an old school singer, but the way he sometimes bobbed aggressively during song instrumental portions, left him looking not unlike a thrash metal musician. Instead of causing stylistic confusion, though, these moves only accentuated just how passionate Jinks is about the music he creates.

Jinks included one cover, "The Way I Am," appropriately enough a Merle Haggard song. In addition to being a fine song choice - and one that also appears on Jinks' latest release - it also speaks to the sometime troubled soul of those that make their livings traveling and singing serious country music. Let's hope Jinks always stays just the way he is because what he is, is something rare and beautiful.

Cauthen preceded Jinks with his own brand of traditional country influences. Songs like "I'll Be the One" drew upon the enjoyable thumping grooves associated with Waylon Jennings. There were also moments, though, where Cauthen's voice took on a higher register, which recalled Marty Robbins. That's quite a wide range, and Cauthen is a special new country artist, just like Jinks.