A few days ago, I published this one while forgetting to include MY OWN commentary into the article. my apologies to all of those involved.
This album grabbed me RIGHT AWAY from the first few notes, as I noticed the reference to Hank Thompson, with his signature toned double stop before the song lyrics even began. The steel tone in the song “My Whiskey Life” compliments the piano VERY well.
Now, as a 19 month sober recovered addict ( even though opiates were my love) this whole album spoke vividly to me on many personal levels. The classic honky tonk heel thumper called ” Darlin’ How You’ve Changed” was one of the best, and most simple to understand songs on the album.
“Dead End Jobs Blues” is one of the most outstanding songs I have heard in a LONG TIME. The steel and lead guitar twang push this song’s beat into a rapid time. The steel solos YEAH I SAID SOLOS make this middle song one of the album’s highlights. This song is an absolute masterpiece of Country Music heaven, about being unemployed and hanging on by a thread to stay afloat.
This is a monsterous album with a whopping 16 songs like “Sign Of A Broken Heart”, which is pretty much another song of pain. It rolls on softly into your brain, and tears at your heart.
The song “12 Steps To Drinkin'” was a clever jab at the 12 step program that US AA MEMBERS adhered to while achieving a sober life. And NO I’m never offended at Country Music jabbing that, it is SUPPOSED TO! In fact this album overall spoke to me louder than MANY of the albums deemed “more popular”….
WEST OF TEXAS TO RELEASE HEARTACHE, HANGOVERS & HONKY TONKS
The Debut Album Finds West Of Texas In the Stretch Of Highway Where Bakersfield And Austin Come Together (April 16, 2021)
Los Angeles, CA —Jerry Zinn is the singer, songwriter and leader of West of Texas, a band formed in 2003. The band has shared the stage with other purveyors of “real” country music, such as James Intveld, Red Meat, Wayne Hancock, Big Sandy, 1100 Springs and many others. Heartache, Hangovers & Honk Tonks began as a 3-song EP called The Heartache Single that was released in 2010. It was poised to become a full album, when health problems hit Zinn and he was unable to sing.
In 2019 when Zinn recovered and was able to sing again, an exciting new lineup was assembled with shows booked from the end of March through May 2020. This, of course, was just before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down live music around the globe. This drove Zinn into the studio where he went to finish the album he had started over ten years earlier.
Produced and engineered by Americana stalwart, Rich McCulley, Heartache, Hangovers, & Honky Tonks was also produced by Jason Eoff, Jeremy Long and Jerry Zinn. The album is brimming with players from the Southern California Country and Americana music scene; Jeremy Long, Dale Daniel, Erik Herrera, Dave Gleason, Gary Brandon, Jordan Shapiro, Rob King, David Serby, Robert Black, Rich McCulley, Dan Weinstein, Phil Glenn and Grant Langston.
West of Texas is good ole’ Traditional Country music and known for “tear in your beer” toe-tappers. These are songs of love, heartache, bad habits, being broke, and working for the man. Zinn is known for his unique vocal style that’s reminiscent of 60s and 70s country music and the songs contain a twangy guitar, crying pedal steel, a walking bass line and a shuffling drumbeat.
Zinn can write a good country song and he pulls from real life, from dead-end day jobs to putting the work into a relationship. “Life in California has an influence on you,” he observes. “You’re constantly searching for the authenticity in life.”
Zinn wrote all of the songs on the album with co-writing credit on “This Fool” (with Daniel Goldblatt), “12 Steps To Drinkin’” (Grant Langston), and “Foolin” which he co-wrote with his wife, Cindy Zinn. “It’s a cheatin’ song and those you don’t usually write with your wife, but this one, I did.”
The first song, “My Whiskey Life” immediately transports you to a Texas dance hall on a hot summer night with a beer in your hand. But don’t let go of your dance partner because the aforementioned, “Foolin’” will have you two-stepping until you’re out of breath. The album is full of slow, medium and quick tempo tunes, so if you’re not dancing, your foot will be tapping or your body swaying.
Zinn’s deep baritone voice guides the record throughout. From the Tex-Mex influenced “This Fool”, the strains of Cajun music in “Bayou Boy”, and the western swing sound of “Fixin’ to Love You”. The album ends with the classic country sounding “Sound of my Heart Breakin’” which Zinn says is, plain and simple, “…another heartbreak song.” That’s the sound of my heart breakin’ | And I’ll never ever love another | I know I’ve said this before | And I won’t let it happen again…
The songs on Heartache, Hangovers, and Honky Tonks are nothing but real. “I’m not one to follow what’s trendy, because I have no time to reinvent myself,” states Zinn. “Inspiration comes when it wants to and sometimes leaves as soon as it comes. It also has to work between having a wife, two kids and two jobs.”
From the beginning, Zinn set out to make a well-rounded country album that touched on a little of everything. “From the honky tonk shuffles, western swing, tex-mex, Cajun, ballads, etc. It’s all there,” he muses. “…except a waltz. Somehow, I didn’t write a waltz for this record. Next time!”
Heartache, Hangovers and Honky Tonks was an album worth the wait and if it’s any indication of what is to come, we will look forward to the next record, and that waltz.