One thing Jason Eady has learned as a songwriter: If making music matters to you, you have to tell the truth, even if the song is entirely fictitious. Certainly, there’s plenty of room for exaggeration or fudging the details, but if a songwriter wants to connect with listeners, the stories woven through the chords and melodies have to be real to someone, even if that someone is a made-up character inhabiting a song. And Eady has always
looked for the truth – it’s part of why his new album is named Jason Eady.
The recording is the fifth in his discography and his first in three years – with 10 songs, it’s also his shortest. But most interesting, perhaps, is the record’s eponymous title, a choice he made after realizing that he’d made his most personal album yet.
Self-titling an album, he said in a phone interview, “has always been an option, but it’s something you only get to do once. I’ve always decided what the album title’s gonna be after it’s done. With this one, it was obvious that it should be self-titled.”
In a lot of ways, Jason Eady is a document of him reflecting on his own career.
“I’ve tried a lot of different things over the years,” he said. “The first album was me trying a lot of different styles. The next couple were roots, more Mississippian and blues-oriented, and then I went real country on the last couple. This time around, I tried to put all of those pieces together. What came out musically was just me.”
Compared to Eady’s past releases, his latest record is less about what was current at the time and more about where he’s been. And for Eady, his career has a lot to look back on. He’s been married and divorced, followed by a single period. Now he’s married again, to Courtney Patton, who collaborated with him on his last record, 2014’s Daylight/Dark.
“With this record … it’s like looking back after the dust settled,” he said.
You might say that the dust started swirling for Eady when he was a teenager, playing in Mississippi watering holes when he was 14, then heading to Nashville in the early ’90s when he was a little older, trying to get caught in the pop-country explosion ignited by people like Garth Brooks.
“But I had this epiphany on one trip,” he said. “It wasn’t gonna happen how I wanted it to happen. I was 17, 18, and I didn’t have any life experience to put in any songs. I wanted to bring that stuff to the table.”
So Eady joined the Air Force, and after that, he got a job that brought him to Fort Worth.
“At that point, six, seven years had gone by,” he said. “I was married, had a daughter, had a job, and I thought music was over for me.”
But in 2002, he picked up his guitar again, hitting up open-mics at places like the White Elephant Saloon. Before long, he was trying to write a new song to play every week, and by 2005, the open-mics had turned into enough regular gigs that he had to make a choice.
“It started affecting my job, staying out late, and I had to pick,” he said. “But my boss was supportive.”
And 12 years later, Eady’s career has taken him all over the country and even across the Atlantic – just last Wednesday, he returned from playing a series of what he calls “songwriter, seated listening-type of shows” in Europe.
“We’ve gone to Europe every year for the past four years,” he said. “They love lyrics over there, which is something you wouldn’t think because English isn’t their native language.”
Besides a national tour that will pick up in a couple of weeks, he’s also wrapping up production on Waco-born songwriter Kayla Ray’s new album. And with all of that, he’s also working on new songs for a studio session scheduled for December.
Eady thinks his songwriting process is different than others’ because he’ll often go months without working on anything new, interspersed with highly prolific periods – usually after his latest work is in the can and ready for release.
“I think I’m most prolific after a record is done,” he said. “I want to follow this one up really quick. I’m in one of those phases now.”