I was asked to review the new Nicholas Jamerson album recently. I, of course, said yes. As I found myself listening, I kept thinking about just how different the music that Nicholas is creating now, is from his past successes with Sundy Best. Sure Nicholas has released albums since those days, but in my humble opinion, those albums were the necessary tool that he used to find his true musical identity. That identity is still deeply rooted in the hills of Eastern Kentucky, but from a musical standpoint, Nicholas has evolved into an intricate songwriter. A passionate storyteller. A gifted poet. A true Kentucky treasure.
*Photo courtesy of the lovely and talented Sarah Cahill
Jamerson has grown into an artist that much prefers the listener’s concentration over their affections. Nicholas has always had an incredible knack of melding lyrics and melodies into ear candy, but his voice now has more important things to convey. That’s why grabbing the listeners’ ear is much more crucial on this trip around the sun.
Equipped with the wisdom gained from living life, and the will to make the choice to take a gamble on himself, at least in my humble opinion, has paid off in spades. I was a fan of Nicholas before I was a friend, and his evolution since Capture Kentucky came to be, has been one of my favorite journeys to watch and I feel what Jamerson has found is more genuine and true to himself than any other work so far.
With his new release ‘The Wild Frontier’, out today, April 20th, Jamerson has set his sights on taking his music to the next level. Unfortunately for him and all of us, COVID-19 has become an unwanted hurdle but his determination is still unwavering and his belief in his creation is strong, as it damn well should be. Which is why I’m jumping back into Capture Kentucky for this article. The world needs this album and if my tiny voice can help Nicholas deliver it, I’m all in.
Aptly titled ‘The Wild Frontier’, the album feels very cinematic in it’s approach. Painstakingly painting details that not only convey his stories, but move the stories forward in a way that’s a rarity in today’s Spotify and Apple Music world. Where albums are discounted and importance is placed on singles. Jamerson sticks to his guns and delivers like only he can.
Nicholas’s ability to conjure up artists of old, while remaining relevant, is what shines so brightly on ‘The Wild Frontier’. Take “Getting Better” for example. The late, great Jerry Reed or even Roger Miller would have been honored to have written a song of this ilk. The same goes for “Brother Rabbit”, which we first heard at our inaugural ‘Cinder & Smoke Fest‘. It’s a tale based on a story from ‘Told’ by Uncle Remus and will be a set staple for a long time as it requires a bit of crowd participation. These songs require your ear and concentration. These are not polished pop songs, disguised as Country or Americana. So if you’ve ever trusted my opinion before, take my word that you need a deep dive with this record.
*Photo courtesy of the lovely and talented Sarah Cahill
There are some heavyweights when it comes to melodies on ‘The Wild Frontier’. Lead single “Ride” sets the tone for your journey. Complete with a whistling intro that will be stuck in your head for at least the next week. That simple whistle will take you back to a time and place that we’ve all only seen in movies, but make no mistake, you’ll be right where Nicholas Jamerson wants you to be.
Check out the clay animation video just released below for “Ride”.
If I had to point you to a song that I feel will change the game for Jamerson, I’d send you towards “Golden Shores”. The hook, melodies, structure, and delivery are second to none. I have had this record for a few weeks now and I always find my way back to “Golden Shores”. That yearning in my gut has served me well in my task of attempting to predict the future. I trust my gut, way more than I do my ear and hopefully, you’ll hear exactly what I do.
“Golden Shores” isn’t a stand-alone melodic gem though. “Leviathan” is hauntingly beautiful, “Clear Picture” sets a calming mood that works beautifully with the message, while the minimalistic “Feather Bed” tells us a tale of parents selling weed from their hidden stash in an old feather bed. Also, don’t miss out on There is truly something for everyone on this album.
Enjoy “Golden Shores” from Nicholas Jamerson and The Morning Jays. Performed at The Basement East in Nashville and filmed by our friend Crystal Rhoten. Check out her YouTube channel Music City Maven while you’re at it, you’ll love it!
The most personal song on ‘The Wild Frontier’ has to be “The Gambler”. It’s an introspective look at where Nicholas is at in his career and how he views his current path as he hedges his bets on himself. “The Gambler” simply feels timeless from the first few notes and after experiencing this one, I’ll bet you too will be placing bets on Jamerson’s success.
For me, on a personal level, no other offering tops the harmonies and melodies held within “Linda James”. Linda James was a real person that lived in Jamerson’s community. She was someone that Nicholas treasured, and still mourns her passing. She shared her philosophy and insight with Jamerson and he now passes that on to us with this wonderful tribute.
My absolute favorite moment on all of ‘The Wild Frontier’ happens around 4:07 during “Linda James”. The band drops out and the acapella outro will send chills throughout your entire being.
Love as much as you can
Give your gratitude at night
Be thankful each and every day
That you get to see the sun rise
Don’t you take that love for granted
Don’t you do nothing in spite
Take care of the people
And you won’t need a steeple
To give the world your light
You can read more about what Mrs. James meant to Jamerson below.
Our journey ends with two more amazing tracks in “Mother” and of course, the title track,”The Wild Frontier”. In this time of uncertainty, make sure you support artists like Nicholas, as this time leaves them with few avenues to earn a living. My prayer is that when we all recover from this pandemic, that something else as beautiful as ‘The Wild Frontier’ is born.
To sum this all up for you and put a pretty red bow on it, this is Jamerson’s magnum opus thus far. So, I ask of you to share this album with your friends, family, foes, and fiends. ‘The Wild Frontier’ is a frontrunner for Album Of The Year in my book and I’ll bet it will be in your book as well!