1. We Made It
2. Never Forget
3. American Nights
4. Fat Kid
5. Bet Youd Look Good
6. Never Left Memphis
7. If You'd Been Around
8. There's A Song
9. Ride Away
Austin Jenckes released his long awaited debut album “If You Grew Up Like I Did” on 31st May 2019. Jenckes grew up in a suburb of Seattle before moving to Nashville six years ago, and has so far racked up over 10 million streams across all platforms and was awarded the Howard Adamson Lyric Award in Country…pretty impressive for someone you’ve probably not heard of until now right? So, with the pleasantries out of the way, shall we dive in?
The album opens with the celebratory “We Made It” which has a really expansive big band feel to it, very similar to Zac Brown, with a chorus that you could imagine thousands of phone lights swaying along to. Just 20 or 30 seconds in, you get the feeling that this is an album of quality and, as you progress through the album, each song reinforces that feeling. Even the songs that you might class as ‘mushy’ sound great – “Never Forget” is probably the closest the album gets to maximum mushiness but it just sounds like a beautiful, heartfelt ode to the memory of meeting his wife while “There’s A Song” will have you reaching for the phone light again as he recalls the songs from key moments in his life while you join in with the ‘na-na-naaaa-na-na’ bits.
“If You’d Been There” is wonderfully reflective, a one way conversation with an absent father, that stays well clear of the self-pitying tone that many such songs can become filled with. “Fat Kid” is one of those introspectively reflective songs that Country just seems to do so well and, again, there’s a lushly expansive sound that fills your ears and warms your soul. But it’s not all phone light songs, introspection and semi-mushiness…”American Nights” sounds like an instant classic Country single, peppered with judicious use of slide guitar while “Never Left Memphis” is, for me, the stand out track. It’s just got something about it, call it the dirty funk guitar, call it swagger, call it both, that just puts a smile on your face when you listen to it and you find yourself putting the album on shuffle in the hope that those Cupertino algorithms will cause it to come round more often than a truly random selection would normally occasion.
This is the second Country album I’ve reviewed this year (this week actually!), and it further reinforces the fact that Country is such a broad church and there’s some extraordinary music out there in the genre. I know everyone (including me) says ‘this is a must buy’ album but this really is – it’s one of those rare albums where there are no fillers.
Austin Jenckes is going to be big and, ahead of his Opry debut in June, “If You Grew Up Like I Did” is the perfect launch pad.
Website - www.austinjenckes.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/austin.jenckes/
Review - Chris Watson