Independent singer/songwriter Jason Eady has long been revered for his poetic lyrical style and his ability to observe and document life through his songs. While those elements are still abundant on "I Travel On," there is something new in the air - a musical spirit and vitality not present on previous Eady releases.
This energy is attributed to a new recording approach that found Eady and his touring band, along with hotshot pickers Rob Ickes (Dobro) and Trey Hensley (acoustic lead guitar), in the studio recording tracks live.
The results are immediate. Following some momentum-building noodling and a shouted count off, "I Lost My Mind In Carolina" barrels down the tracks toward the listener like a runaway acoustic train.
Though less hard-charging, the live-in-studio approach lends a loose feel to both "That's Alright," a tasty piece of twangy blues rock, and "Calaveras County," which prominently features Ickes' Dobro and Hensley's winding acoustic lead licks.
Two of the album's quieter moments also seem to benefit from the live recording approach. The guitar and Dobro encircle and tenderly embrace the reflective lyrics on "Happy Man," a remembrance of a life lived well, while "Always A Woman" carries an emotional weight that is intensified by guitar, Dobro, a plodding and steady drum beat and bowed fiddle.
The fast-paced and bluegrass-inspired "Pretty When I Die," another tune about living life on your own terms, joins the title track, a song professing love for transient lifestyle, as two of the more memorable compositions on a collection full of thoughtfully-written and expertly-performed songs.
With "I Travel On," Eady elevated the music to a place where it now is a more vital component of his narrative than ever before, adding weight and depth to his already incredible observations and stories. Hopefully, he finds this a place worthy of a return trip.