Cover Art Courtesy of Big Machine Records
NASHVILLE, TN (April 16, 2021) Jackson Dean isn’t like most of the other young male Country acts. Steeped in real life, selling out Maryland’s famed Ram’s Head and Union Jacks while still in high school, the 20-year-old songwriter has a raw knuckle approach to music. A little more complicated, a little more thrown down, Big Machine Records is sending the introspective “Wings” into the universe as a way of introducing the young man from Odenton, Maryland along with the pre-order for his debut collection JACKSON DEAN, to be released on April 30.
“When you look at me, I may look a little wild, or a little rootless,” he admits, “and that’s probably true. I love that rock edge that Country has, but I also like those songs that core into you, that get real honest over a slower track. If you want to understand me, listen to ‘Wings,’ and you’ll realize I’m not an angel, but I try to reckon on what I’ve done – and always make things right. That said, I’m also somebody you can’t really hold.”
Produced by Luke Dick and Park Chisolm, the moody track is a sparse consideration of leaving and being gone. With a slightly gravel voice, Dean opens the ballad by confessing, “I wish I had wings/ Take me away from all that I seen/ And all the trouble I’ve made…”
No stranger to rootless men, one brother travels the globe sailing other people’s boats and the other brother was overcoming troubles as a youth, Dean’s brooding song celebrates the need to wash oneself clean – and move beyond the things in life that weigh you down. With a minimal lyric, his earthy baritone echoes with both loneliness and a hunger to rise above.
Like the rest of Dean’s upcoming debut project, “Wings,” which also features sometime Black Crowe Fred Eltringham on drums and Bonnie Raitt veteran Kenny Greenberg on electric guitar, has the terseness of a grown man maintaining honesty in the strain of how hard life can be. But “Wings” also explores freeing oneself from mistakes, guilt and self-inflicted agony.
“I was raised to own what you do, whether it’s good or bad,” Dean explains. “Truth is: everything you do stays on you. But when you start moving, when you look into the sky, that’s when you know freedom. Wings – like songs — are the ultimate freedom, really, cause they can pick you up and take you anywhere.”
Discovered by William Morris Endeavour’s Jay Williams from selling out local clubs, he was signed to a publishing deal by Eric Church advocate Arturo Buenahora. Suddenly, the kid, who’d grown up going to work with his hard-working contractor father, spent his last couple years flying into Nashville at 8 am on Monday mornings, writing songs for three or four days and sleeping where he could, then flying out on Thursday nights to gig around the same Maryland bars where the Brothers Osborne cut their teeth on Fridays, Saturdays and occasionally Sundays.
“My Dad raised me to not be afraid of the work, to show up and do the job, stay ‘til you’re done – and make sure the work is good. It’s the secret of his success, so when the opportunity to really do this came along, I was not going to let anything stop me… Between Arturo and Luke Dick, they saw I was a little bit different, a little more intense and maybe honor-bound, and they didn’t want to water that down, so I wouldn’t think of giving anything less than my all to the writing or playing for the people back home.”
With his self-titled collection nearing release, “Wings” is the first salvo from an artist who’s here for the long haul. Soulful, just this side of being on the run, it suggests an artist – like Dwight Yoakam, Hank Williams or Marty Stuart – who finds their truth in motion, in leaving, in getting gone.