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Cody Jinks Cody Jinks
Album: I'm Not The Devil
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 13

First things first, Cody Jinks, what a great name for a country music artist! However, despite being raised on country music, his first love was metal and he tells us 'Metallica was king'! Following a good stint as front man in a thrash metal band he found himself back where it all began, citing his dad's love of country icons Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard.

Over the past 15 years or so, Cody has been fiercely independent and true to his own ideals which, along with the ups, has had its fair share of downs including 'numerous empty bar rooms and never ending financial loss'.

Cody asserts 'I'm Not The Devil' is the sound of who he is and where he has found himself at this point in his career and says 'Country music found me when I was young and chased me down as I grew older'.

The album was recorded at the Sonic Ranch in Texas and released in August 2016 in the USA. More background information about the recording is hard to find but I think all the songs are Cody Jinks originals with the exception of Merle Haggard's 'The Way I Am' and the title track, 'I'm Not The Devil', a co write with Ward Davis. So although it's hard to give specific credit where credits due, throughout, the playing and recording values are excellent.

Opening track 'The Same' comes soaring in on an archetypal country band sound of guitar, pedal steel, drums, bass and fiddle before Cody's vocal enters at around 30 seconds. He has a rich voice that manages to sound both traditional and contemporary at the same time. Accordingly, comparisons are made with the likes of Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson, but equally they could apply to greats of yesteryear such as Johnny Cash and even Jim Reeves. The song itself chugs through and is a great scene setter.

The much-lauded lead track 'I'm Not The Devil' follows and lives up to its billing. It has a sweet, courtly guitar strum and put me in mind of those classic John Hiatt ballads such as 'Icy Blue Heart' and 'Have A Little Faith In Me' that refuse to be rushed or hurried. Like all great country songs, it leads to a chorus that ties things neatly together. The refrain of 'I'm not the devil you think that I am, it ain't no excuse but I'm just a man, I slipped and I fell and got out of hand, but I'm not the devil you think that I am' is steeped in that tradition. This is a perfect, radio friendly country song and a great way to champion the album.

'No Guarantees' is a further early favourite and rattles through with some very effective, muted electric guitar picking driving things along and another fine vocal from Cody.

With his long hair, beard and array of tattoos, Cody Jinks looks like he would be more suited fronting a ZZ Top covers band, but he is every inch country. Unlike his aforementioned contemporaries, to my English ears his music does not straddle genres, move into roots, Americana or country rock, but is unequivocally country. This is its strength I think, it does exactly what it says on the tin! Tales of love, loss, regret, remorse and redemption, all washed through with Bible belt mythology in an authentic country package.

The songs remain equally strong throughout the album but two more personal favourites are the stripped back resignation of 'Grey' and the final track 'Hand Me Down', all righteous indignation, distorted riffs and good old testifying. Should a further series of 'Sons Of Anarchy' be on the cards, this last number is one for the sound track!

This is a very enjoyable album indeed, full of good songs, fine playing and produced with clarity and warmth. Cody Jinks is about as real as they come and in sticking to his creative principles has served up a lovely piece of gritty, sincere country music.

Paul Jackson