Thursday August 3
One of country's new crop of modern traditionalists, Warner Music Nashville artist Randall King grew up on the endless plains of West Texas – and his sound is steeped in their timeless beauty, both gritty and graceful at the same time. He grew up singing in the back of a '93 Chevy Suburban, mimicking the pure-country vocals of stars like Keith Whitley, George Strait, Alan Jackson and John Anderson and over the years became drawn to the electrifying energy of modern stars like Eric Church, Dierks Bentley and Jason Aldean. After years of hustling and a road-warrior's diet of 150 shows each year, King produced and released the defiant 2016 EP, Another Bullet, then followed up with a 2018 self-titled album.
Now produced by traditional torchbearers Bart Butler and Ryan Gore (Jon Pardi), King is bringing an organic, timeless sound to country's mainstream with his major label debut album Shot Glass. The 11-song collection, seven of which co-written by King, centers around a night out at a bar, with each track representing a different point of view of those in the room. With over 120+ million career streams to his name, the Pandora and Country Now 2022 Country Artist to Watch is looking to the anywhere-and-everywhere future with music that captures the essence of a Western poet who's never been afraid to be himself.
Country crooner Jake Jacobson is cut from a different cloth.
A world-class athlete from the age of five, Jacobson performed at levels most people never dream of — all before he turned 17. And during the most stressful times of his young career, Jacobson turned to country music. Now, the neo-traditional “throwback kid” is spinning his own country gold.
With roots in Reno, Nevada and an upbringing in a Northern California ranching town of 2,000 people, Jacobson finds himself drawn to the stories and lifestyles of the unique characters intersecting his life. And those are precisely the people and places that jump from the speakers on his latest work, the four-song EP Reno.
On Reno, Jacobson celebrates what made him — from the blistering weather of Nevada’s high desert to the neo-traditional country sounds he first heard from his dad’s own honky tonk band in the late 90s and early 2000s. You don’t need to listen hard to hear the influence Jacobson pulled from getting up on stage as a young kid and singing along to Brooks & Dunn’s “Neon Moon” with his dad.
But Jacobson is far from a tribute act. Much like his heroes before him (artists like Keith Whitley, Randy Travis, and Cody Johnson), Jacobson finds inspiration in the people and places that make his perspective unique.
“Reno is a city where there’s no last call,” Jacobson says. The combination of alcohol, gambling, and nearby outdoor destinations like Lake Tahoe make it a unique cross-section of all kinds of kinds. In his song “First Call,” Jacobson turns that trope on its head as a clever ode to leaning on the reliable ones in your life instead of the vices that can dig you deeper into the ground.
Reno the EP is much like Reno the city, in a lot of ways. For one, the four-song EP takes turns that feel uniquely distinct but each vital to what makes the work whole — much like the changing weather in the mountain town. “We truly have all four seasons of weather,” Jacobson says. “You just never know when one season stops and the other begins because they rotate year-round.”
And while Jacobson’s rising path to success is one tinged with a tip of the hat to the modern age — his first big break came when Randall King caught wind of a cover he posted on Twitter and invited him to come out to Nashville, eventually leading to his debut EP with Trent Willmon and a slew of dates opening for artists like King, Clay walker, and Kip Moore — there’s no doubt his continued success will be a testament to the timeless values of hard work and good storytelling.