Sera Cahoone heads out on first full band tour in 5 years this fall!

Cahoone readies for first full-band tour in 5 years!

We’re very excited to announce that Sera Cahoone is heading out on tour this September! This past year has seen her touring with the likes of Tift Merrit, Son Volt and Gregory Alan Isakov but now she’s ready to strike out on with her full band in tow to support From Where I Started.

We had some wonderful press for the album including the NPR First Listen Stephen Thompson wrote up here and CBC’s First Play here. This fantastic interview on Uproxx, a glowing No Depression review, this piece on LGTBQNation referencing the interview Cahoone had with Jewly Hight for NPR’s Songs We LoveElle Magazine’s ’10 Best New Songs’ of March and a great American Songwriter piece. Beyond that Sera’s album received high praise from the Bluegrass Situation, Saving Country Music, Curve Magazine, KEXP, Paste, The Seattle Times, Seattle Magazine, Seattle Metropolitan, Seattle Weekly and a ton more.


The world of American roots music is no stranger to Seattle songwriter Sera Cahoone. Even though her last three albums were on Sub Pop Records and she spent years at the top of the indie charts, she’s always had a streak of Americana that ran through her music, a love of the humble folk song that bolstered her art. She’s returning now to these earliest influences with her new album, From Where I Started (to be released March 24, 2017). Growing up, Cahoone first found her voice in Colorado dive bars, backing up old blues musicians at age 12 on the drums. Her father, a Rocky Mountain dynamite salesman, took the family along to mining conferences and old honky-tonks in the state. The sounds she heard there—the twang of country crooners, cowboy boots on peanut shells—have stayed with her all the way to Seattle, where she lives now, and the seminal indie rock bands she’s been a part of in the city (Carissa’s Weird, Band of Horses).

To make From Where I Started, her first new album since 2012’s Dear Creek Canyon, Cahoone traveled south to Portland to work with producer John Askew (Neko Case, Laura Gibson, Alela Diane). Askew brought together key Portland musicians like Rob Berger (Iron and Wine, Lucinda Williams), Dave Depper (Death Cab For Cutie) and Annalisa Tornfelt (Black Prairie) with Cahoone’s Seattle bandmates – Jeff Fielder (Mark Lanegan, Amy Ray) and Jason Kardong (Son Volt, Jay Farrar). The band lays a deep bedrock beneath Cahoone’s songs, supporting her arcing vocals and innovative guitar and banjo playing. The album is driven by a strong rhythmic sensibility, owed to Cahoone’s background as a drummer for indie rock bands. “A lot of my songs start as a beat, I add guitar, then lyrics at the end,” she says. “When I write songs I usually sit at my drum kit playing both drums and guitar at the same time.”

From Where I Started plays on the rougher, darker edges of the traditional love song. Like any good country album, the songs here deal with love and loss, but Cahoone also knows how to surround loss with hope, to temper a sad song with a turn in the major key. The optimism of the love song “Up To Me,” buoyed by fingerpicked guitar and banjo, gives way to the weary resignation of “Taken Its Toll,” with its plaintive pedal steel and echoing vocal harmonies. “Ladybug,” is a poignant song that followed the tragic death of Cahoone’s cousin Tawnee.

From Where I Started represents a refocusing for Sera Cahoone. It positions her as a songwriter beholden to the old country sounds she grew up with, a songwriter who’s always been able to deftly translate a personal perspective into a universal view. It’s an album about falling in and out of love, finding new hope, and learning that the best way to move forward is to remember whereyou began.

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Grew up in Maine. Lives in Texas. Writes songs. Makes records. Travels around. Tries to be good.

Slaid Cleaves lives with his wife of 21 years, Karen Cleaves, in the Hill Country outside Austin, Texas. While Karen books the shows, the flights, the hotels, and the rental cars; designs, orders and sells the CDs and T-shirts, pays the band, updates the web site, answers fan questions, does the taxes and makes dinner, Slaid writes his little songs (and fixes things around the house). They travel around the world together while Slaid plays for fans far and wide and gets all the glory. If it wasn’t for Karen, Slaid would be carrying all he owned in a shoe box, scrounging around for a happy hour gig.



both on CD and on 140 grms vinyl)

Now twenty-five years into his storied career, Cleaves’ songwriting has never been more potent than on his new album ‘Ghost on the Car Radio,’ out June 23.
‘Ghost on the Car Radio’ is Cleaves’ first release since 2013’s ‘Still Fighting the War,” which was praised as “one of the year’s best albums” by American Songwriter and “carefully crafted…songs about the struggles of the heart in hard times” by the Wall Street Journal. The New York Daily News called his music “a treasure hidden in plain sight,” while the Austin Chronicle declared, “there are few contemporaries that compare. He’s become a master craftsman on the order of Guy Clark and John Prine.”

Described as “terse, clear and heartfelt” (NPR Fresh Air), Cleaves speaks to timeless truths in his songs. “I’m not an innovator. I’m more of a keeper of the flame,” he says.
“I think of songs as the whiskey of writing. Distilled down to the essence, powerful, concentrated, immediate. You can take it all in and really feel it in just seconds,” says Slaid Cleaves.

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Charlie Whitten to release EP “Playwright” August 25th

We’re excited to be working with Charlie Whitten, whose new EP Playwright is coming out August 25thThe whole thing is phenomenal, a quick 4-song EP showcasing a moment in time for the young songwriter. The songwriting on each of these tracks is wonderful and points to Whitten’s budding brilliance but the up-tempo, jaunty, pining of “Since She’s Gone”, with it’s duality of heart-break and acceptance is really impressive.
Whitten grew up in Charlotte, NC and was born in Charleston, WV. He’s released a few pieces under his own name but says he “enjoys being sideman just as much as a singer-songwriter.” Pretty obvious that he enjoys it when you can catch Charlie playing guitar for Jake McMullen and Becca Mancari, and while he just returned from touring for two months with Andrew Combs as his bass player. He’s also played and sang with Molly Parden, Erin Rae McKaskle, Caleb Groh, Chrome Pony, and his current side project, Stationwagon; a band of tall songwriters and friends featuring Mark Fredson, Pete Lindberg, Andrew Hunt, Brett Resnick. You can hear bits a pieces from his heroes Jim Croce, Don McLean and Harry Nilsson in his songs. There’s a bit of Rayland Baxter in his arrangements as well.

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Steve Earle, So You Wannabe an Outlaw.

Steve Earle has always kept at least a foothold in his outlaw country roots, but he’s seldom embraced them as explicitly as he does on So You Wannabe an Outlaw. Over the past couple of years, Earle’s been enmeshed in specialized projects — the 2015 bluesman’s holiday Terraplane Blues and 2016’s covers-heavy duo album with Shawn Colvin. But a tour last year to commemorate the 30th birthday of his landmark debut album, Guitar Town, and some time spent reconnecting with key early influences like Waylon Jennings’ Honky Tonk Heroes and Willie Nelson’s Phases and Stages helped put Earle back in an outlaw state of mind.
Back when a 19-year-old Earle abandoned his native Texas for Nashville, there wasn’t a better place for a rebellious country songwriter’s apprenticeship. Waylon and co. were making their raw, revolutionary mid-’70s records, and troubadours like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt (the latter the subject of a 2009 tribute album by Earle) were adding their game-changing brand of songpoetry to the mix. Assimilating all those influences, Earle became the standard-bearer for a new kind of country maverick in the second half of the ’80s, when alt country didn’t exist and most of the soul was being systematically sucked out of the Music City mainstream.
He’s remained true to that renegade spirit ever since, and it was that same iconoclasm that drove him to various genre-hopping experiments over the years, from blues to bluegrass and beyond. But as Earle puts his early inspirations in tight focus, So You Wannabe an Outlaw is the sound of a man honing in on his wheelhouse and bashing one out of the park.
Waylon’s signature growling Telecaster tone is a sonic touchstone for this album, and it’s at the heart of the title track’s cautionary tale, an overt homage to Jennings’ “Waymore Blues” that includes an appropriately gritty guest vocal from Willie himself. The phaser effect that was a crucial component of Waylon’s sound is summoned up by Earle on the roughneck stomp “Looking for a Woman,” a gun-shy post-breakup narrative that’s tempting to read as the aftermath of Earle’s 2014 split from wife Allison Moorer.
It seems like Earle’s been reading up on his firefighting history for the rugged two-stepper “The Firebreak Line.” Its forest fireman narrative revolves around the heroic deeds of real-life forest ranger Ed Pulaski during the Great Idaho Fire of 1910. But there’s nothing heroic about the narrator of the ferocious “Fixin’ to Die.” Fueled by a guitar assault far nastier and more rocking than anything Waylon ever attempted, it follows a cuckold’s journey from fatal retribution to the last mile.
But while the first half of the album is heavily front-loaded with snarling hard-chargers, the subtler side of Earle’s vision is given more room on the second half. Written and sung with Miranda Lambert, “This Is How It Ends” is a bittersweet look at the unwinding of a marriage, a topic that both Earle and Lambert know a bit about. “You Broke My Heart” sidles up to the same subject, but with an old-school, acoustic-based front-porch feel. “Walkin’ In L.A.” taps into a pre-outlaw vibe, too, with its classic Ray Price-style shuffle, sweetly sawing fiddle licks, and a vocal assist from ’60s honky-tonk hero Johnny Bush (who once played in Price’s band).
The album’s closing cut, “Goodbye Michelangelo,” simultaneously brings to mind beginnings and endings. The mournful acoustic ballad is an elegy for Guy Clark, who passed away in 2016. Besides pointing the way toward new paths in country in the ’70s, Clark was one of the young Earle’s most important mentors in Nashville, and the latter’s sense of loss is palpable in his sorrowful but unsentimental farewell. Fortunately, Clark left behind a country music universe populated by a new breed of outlaws like Lambert, Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton. But for all the eminence of Clark, Van Zandt, et al, the new school owes as much to Earle as anybody. In that sense, it’s doubly significant to hear him saluting the lessons he learned at the feet of the outlaw masters.
So You Wannabe an Outlaw is out June 16 on Warner Bros Records.

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Album release: ‘Gold Rush’ by Hannah Aldridge
Release date: 16 June 2017
Label: Rootsy Music
More info: Artist website

In literature and in songwriting, the American South is where writers go to face their fears. Hannah Aldridge doesn’t just dip her pen into the well of the South, the Muscle Shoals native embodies it. With every song, she’s facing down demons of a life once lived from substance abuse to failed relationships and scars from the lashes of the bible belt.

‘Gold Rush’ is Hannah Aldridge’s second album, a follow up to her 2014 debut ‘Razor Wire’. While that album launched her career, drew the attention of music writers and sent her touring across the world, ‘Gold Rush’ shows a more mature and introspective artist with more life experience – and music experience – under her belt.

The honesty Hannah Aldridge crafts into each track is off-set by her stubborn, maybe defiant, nature, which gives her music a hopeful silver lining.

“I start writing with ‘this is how I’m feeling and I need to talk about it.’ Doing that helps me sort out my own thoughts on it. My music is an introspective look at the things that happened in my life. It’s me trying to sort through and put feelings into words,” she said.

Hannah Aldridge is the daughter of Muscle Shoals legend Walt Aldridge. An Alabama Music Hall of Famer, Walt Aldridge is a prolific and decorated songwriter of countless Number One and Top Ten hits recorded by the likes of Lou Reed, Reba McEntire, Travis Tritt, Earl Thomas Conley, Ricky Van Shelton, Ronnie Milsap, and Conway Twitty.

Mixing her personal life and the sounds of her hometown, Hannah Aldridge’s new album also draws in influences from across the rock genre. Working with people with one foot in country music and one foot in rock, Hannah Aldridge makes a fresh kind of Southern Rock styled by Southern Gothic storytelling. You can hear it in ‘Gold Rush’’s ode to burning out, or in the yearning of ‘Burning Down Birmingham’, and anthem-for-the-lonely ‘No Heart Left Behind’ – a track that is shot-through with wild riffs.

Recorded at Creative Workshop in Nashville, Hannah Aldridge worked with Muscle Shoals writers such as Mark Naramore, Tosha Hill, Matt Johnson and Brad Crisler and artists such as Andrew Combs, Ashley McBryde, Don Gallardo, Ryan Beaver, and Sadler Vaden on “Gold Rush.” She teamed up with Jordan Dean and M. Allen Parker, who were instrumental in working on her new album, and finally finishing by calling on her Dad, Walt Aldridge, to master the record. In total, Hannah Aldridge compiled a team of distinct talents to work with her. With their help, Hannah Aldridge has put together a progressive, creative and memorable body of work.

“It’s about being self-destructive,” Aldridge said of her new album. “That is the underlying tone. The album goes back to when I was younger, and after touching on that, to now. In ‘Aftermath,’ the very first line is: ‘I was born in a crossfire.’ It starts from day one.”

Hannah Aldridge will tour the UK in summer 2017 – details announcing soon.


“Listening to Aldridge’s music is a sonic treat” – Billboard
“Aldridge’s songs are deep, intelligent, and very powerful” – No Depression
“In the running for best Americana debut this year” – American Songwriter
“An important album” – Americana UK


From the first notes, I was hooked” – Suze Uttal, No Depression

“Sometimes a band can just appear out of nowhere and make a sound so agreeable and enticing it almost seems like they’re the product of some divine destiny. Driftwood offers an ideal example of that phenomenon”Country Standard Time

When most people think of upstate New York, they either imagine bucolic landscapes or working-class towns. As natives of Binghamton, the members of Driftwood hail from a working town, but play music rooted in the land, leaning alternately into folk, old-time, country, punk, and rock, depending on their personal moods and their songs’ needs.

“It’s sometimes tough to keep any sort of focus on style or sound when you have three different songwriters,” guitarist Dan Forsyth concedes. “But it also allows us to branch out and explore in ways other bands don’t. Also, I think it’s important, as a band, to ask ourselves ‘Is this a good next step?” Describing the Driftwood sound, banjo player Joe Kollar offers, “I consider our sound to be more of an attitude and an approach – the result of all of our influences in a completely open musical forum where the only stipulation is to use bluegrass instruments and create it from the heart.”

That’s as close to being pinned down as Driftwood ever gets. Such has always been the case for artists blurring and blending genre lines in order to innovate. Yes, they wield old-time instruments, but they do so with a punk-rock ethos. “I do not know much about punk music, but I do know that it gives me a feeling of tearing into something without inhibition,” violinist Claire Byrne says, adding, “Old-time music has the same feeling for me. The music was a release for people living extremely hard lives in harsh conditions. In this way, the two styles of music are very similar: It’s digging in and making a statement. It’s rocking out and feeling totally reborn through the song.”

Driftwood has been digging in and rocking out since their 2005 formation, playing an average of 150 shows a year. “In the beginning, we hit the road constantly with an all-or-nothing attitude,” Forsyth confides. “We were doing it with a lot of passion, but had no thoughts about long-term sustainability. Life outside of the band was minimal. One thing that I think we started to notice was, when you’re always in it, you have no perspective and you start to lose yourself in a weird way.”

As such, gigging and traveling that much can’t help but influence and inform the band, individually and collectively. In the past, they used the stage to work out arrangements of new songs. For City Lights, they used the studio. “Keeping this kind of touring schedule, we have thought of recording albums as a sort of secondary thing and considered ourselves a ‘live’ band. We learn so much on the road and this kind of work has always felt productive,” Forsyth explains. “It wasn’t until this last album that we took some time off to learn more about being in the studio. We wanted to take our time and record on our own terms.”

According to Byrne, their own terms included “taking a step forward with the production and the arrangements.” Kollar tacks “learning” on, for good measure, while Forsyth adds “good songs and bigger arrangements, and sounds than we had not previously achieved.”


Even though they come from different directions, the three founding members – along with bassist Joey Arcuri – tend to end up at the same place. That unity, as well as the joy derived from playing together, can be heard throughout City Lights.

As further evidence of their compatibility, both Forsyth and Byrne tag “Skin and Bone” as the head of the album. It’s a Kollar composition that he says “came from a reflection I had of myself and life on the road, in general. It touches on trying to keep perspective, forging ahead, and embracing the future.” Clearly, that’s a state of mind they can all relate to.

The heart of the album, though, is a toss up with Forsyth choosing the romance of “Too Afraid,” Byrne picking the nostalgia of “The Waves,” and Kollar tapping the excitement of the title track. That disparity may be because, in their decade together, the musicians have all undergone monumental life changes. They have come into their own… together. Forsyth is now a husband and father; Byrne is now a recorded songwriter. “Generally speaking, there’s a maturity to us now,” Kollar explains. “We have a bit of experience doing what we do and the music reflects that point of view. The song subjects, our playing/singing abilities, our recording abilities, and our relationships have all matured.”

Forsyth picks up the thread, “We have all learned an unbelievable amount of patience and teamwork strategy. Our band is close: Everyone knows a lot about each other. We travel in very tight quarters constantly and are always up on what’s happening in each others’ lives. I think this has really enabled us to express ourselves, individually and as a group, but also to understand each other and others in so many ways.”

Having joined Driftwood when she was 21, Byrne has spent her whole adult life in the band “learning to play and sing in a group, learning the art of performance, and, of course, learning who I am and what my purpose(s) in life are. I think you can hear those changes from the first record to the last one.” Because City Lights marks her songwriting debut, she feels like her personal growth is on full display. “Rather than just listening to my harmonies and fiddle playing, you now have lyrics, as well. I think the songs I have on this record reflect a woman going through a great shift in her life, settling down a bit, and reflecting on the many different ways that affects me and my relationships with others.”

As the sole woman of the band, Byrne puts a clearly different spin on things. “Sometimes, instead of thinking about adding a feminine perspective, I actually spend time thinking about how to make myself fit in with the guys and, therefore, dumbing down my femininity a bit,” she says. “With my songwriting, though, there is no hiding it. I’m talking about things from a woman’s perspective that many other women will be able to relate to easier than they would if a man was writing and singing about the same topics.”

One topic the three songwriters all agree on is home. In their own ways, they each love and reflect their hard-scrabble hometown. “Growing up in the Chenango Bridge/Binghamton area, I never really thought about it being an economically depressed town. To me, it was a perfect balance of rivers, woods, campfires, street signs, factories, and city lights,” Kollar says, referencing the new album’s title. “Now, I know a little more about it being a post-industrial town, but still I see it as a diamond in the rough. I relate to the sort of underdog/uphill feel of the town.”

Byrne adds, “I think coming from a place such as Binghamton makes us very raw. We are a reflection of where we grew up. There isn’t really anything fancy about us – we aren’t the ‘hippest’ group out there, as far as fashion goes – but we are certainly very real. What you see is what you get.”

Pierce Edens’ Gritty Appalachian Roots

Pierce Edens’ new release, Stripped Down Gussied Up, is both haunting and fiery; a concoction of psychedelic-grunge-roots, with Eden’s raw, tortured country bray at the hel

Pierce Edens
Stripped Down Gussied Up
June 2, 2017

Life is the intersection of empty and full, dark and light. This relationship, inherent in all things, is the underpinning of Pierce Edens’ new release, Stripped Down Gussied Up dropping June 2nd.  Over the last ten years, Edens has been drawing on his roots in Appalachian songwriting and blending them with the gritty rock and roll sounds that captivated him in his teenage years. Here again, Edens pulls together light and dark— Stripped Down Gussied Up is both haunting and fiery; a concoction of psychedelic-grunge, with Eden’s raw, tortured country bray at the helm.

His fifth fully independent album, Edens has taken his singular voice back home to Western North Carolina. Edens recorded Stripped Down Gussied Up in his childhood home, which he stripped and renovated into a studio a few years back. Even the environment, thus, is an incarnation of the album’s crux. Edens said, “Recording often feels paradoxical; like taking a song and distilling it down, then building it back up from the bare bones.  It’s like pulling your skin off your back and then putting a nice shirt on, maybe a coat too. This is me doing that. Stripping down, gussying up.”

Michigan Gothic Americana Duo Modern Mal

Modern Mal
The Misanthrope Family Album

Like an oasis appearing to the lone, wearied cowboy, rebel-psych Americana group Modern Mal’s The Misanthrope Family Album dropped May 12th 2017, is the meeting of traditional country with a mirage of tropical beach-psych.

In the writing process, it seems the band’s northern Michigan songwriting pair of Rachel Brooke and Brooks Robbins, had a specific recluse in mind—a close family friend they recently took care of on his deathbed. A misanthrope with a unique way of looking at life; it’s his eerie polaroid portrait that adorns the cover of The Misanthrope Family Album, and his peaceful passage into the afterlife guides the spirit of the album. Though rife with his quirky melancholia and the grief inherent in loss, this album also celebrates their friend’s magic, and the magic of family. That is Modern Mal’s genius: the dark and the light balance each other out. Rachel’s high, floating vocals and Brooks’ dark, foreboding harmonies make The Misanthrope Family Album some twisted lovechild of Brian Wilson and Lou Reed, and the use of slide, surf guitar, ukulele, and 1950s doo-wop influences make the album as sunny and intricately produced as it is dark and gritty.





Rachel and Brooks met playing shows together in Detroit. At the time, Brooks was a loner songwriter writing pretty, dark lullabies, and Rachel had been releasing her own Gothic Americana—infused with punked-out murder ballads, rockabilly and early jazz. Hailed as an underground country queen, Rachel found her match with Brooks Robbins—who’s dark baritone voice and preoccupation with the mysterious complemented her artistic vision. In the meeting of their twisted, talented minds, Modern Mal was born.

The Misanthrope Family Album was recorded at Halohorn Studios in Traverse City, Michigan, with some of the people who are closest to Rachel and Brooks. For instance, Rachel’s brother Andy Van Guilder played drums, their best friend Nick Carnes and his first cousin Mike Cullen played played guitar on the album, and Rachel’s childhood friend TJ Rankin (bass, percussion) also made an appearance. Throughout the process of recording, Rachel and Brooks were careful to include the creative perspectives of all involved, which accounts for everyone’s disparate quirks and makes the new release feel authentic and alive.

“Brooks and I are the songwriters, and the orchestrators, but we believe in hearing out other people’s ideas and interpretations,” said Rachel. “What really stands out to us is that most of the people on the record are all really close to us. Either family, or very close friends who all just happen to be brilliant people, and introverts… “Most of the songs are about feelings of sadness, inadequacy in love, exploration, introspection and self-reflection,” said Rachel.

The heavy subject matter is meshed with jangly harmonies and washed-out psychedelia—both Rachel and Brooks cite The Beach Boys as a major early influence—but with an eerie sci-fi element that underscores their collective fascination with the unknown. As Brooks so aptly said, “If we are the product of purposeful design, hopefully death will be a celebration,” and with The Misanthrope Family Album, Modern Mal have indulged all the magical, quirky mystery inherent in death, and life.

Jade Jackson – Gilded

Jade JacksonGilded

ANTI-Release: 19 May 2017

Within seconds after a guitar plays the intro to her song “Aden,” Jade Jackson’s voice, illuminated by experience, sings: “I grew up my father’s daughter. He said don’t take no shit from no one. You’ll never see me cry …”
And it’s with that voice and those lyrics that imply a thousand stories, this singer/songwriter hints at what she is capable of crafting, of how many tears she can stir in recounting her rambles to the far corners of her imagination, further even than she has actually travelled.

For Jackson has spent much of her time in a small California town, working in her parents’ restaurant, jotting down verses and picking out chords during breaks, then venturing eventually to more formal music studies in college before coming back home and startling listeners with the depth and intensity of her music.

Scheduled to release in May on Anti- Records, Gilded introduces her preternatural writing and raw, roots-rough sound. Surrounded by the close friends and gifted musicians that constitute her band, Jackson finds the perfect twist of phrase again and again, to express regret (“Let me walk over the bridges I’ve burned,” on the mournful “Bridges”), foreboding (“He kept his shiny blue gun underneath his dash/Deep inside she knew their lives were gonna crash,” a doomsday premonition set a galloping beat and spaghetti-Western guitar on “Troubled End”) and freedom (“I feel my boot heels sink in quicksand, baby, every time we kiss,” she tells her baffled lover on “Motorcycle.” “Ah, understand, boy, it’s been fun, but my motorcycle only seats one.”)

How did Jackson develop this command so young? First, of course, she was born with talent, which her home life nurtured. Though neither parent was a musician, both of them — especially her father — listened constantly to a range of artists, from Johnny Cash and Hank Williams to The Smiths, The Cure and assorted punk outfits.
“There was always music at home,” Jackson remembers. “In fact, it weirded me out when I’d go to a friend’s house and we were supposed to be quiet.”

Just as important, she had a compelling reason to develop her talent from an early age. “I was just bored!” she insists. “That’s why I started playing guitar. I’d grown up in a really small house in a small town. I shared a room with my brother and sister until I was 12. Then when I was 13 we moved about 30 miles away to Santa Margarita because my parents wanted to open a restaurant there. So there were more people around but I didn’t know anybody. That summer it was 118 degrees and we didn’t have air conditioning. I didn’t have any friends. My parents were kind of anti-technology, so I grew up without the Internet.”

So she found escape on her own. “Even before I picked up the guitar, my favorite thing was to tell stories. I was so in love with poetry: I would watch how people reacted when I read something I wrote … and then I’d put myself in their shoes and try to imagine how it felt to be them because I was kind of sheltered.” She wrote prolifically — still does, in fact. “I couldn’t stop,” she admits. “I would write on whatever I could grab. If I was in the car, I’d write on a piece of trash. If there was no trash, I’d write on cardboard. In my junior year of high school, the local newspaper did a story that said ‘Jade Jackson writes a song every day!’ They had me count all the songs I’d written by then and I think I was up to 375.”

The numbers grew. Through hard work and a willingness to challenge herself with each new effort, the quality of the music grew too. At the same time, Jackson began thinking about music as possibly something more than a private escape. This epiphany dates back to the night she went to a concert for the first time without her parents. The headliner that night was one of her favorites, Social Distortion.

“When I watched Mike Ness walk onstage and felt the energy from the crowd, it ignited something in me,” Jackson says. “I wanted to be on that stage too. I never knew I wanted to perform until that day. That shifted all the gears in my life.”

She began by playing every Sunday at a coffee shop in Santa Margarita. “They had a guitar hanging on the wall, so I’d take it down, spread all my lyrics out on the floor, sit on the couch and read them from there,” she says, with a laugh. “But then this musician named Don Lampson saw me playing. He asked if I wanted to open for him. So I memorized four or five of my songs and for the first time in my life, sang through a microphone. I connected with that energy of performing. I loved it when I could make people feel emotions through my songs.”

Her following, like her catalog, grew steadily. By the time she’d completed high school, Jackson’s work had become impressive enough to persuade Cal Arts to accept her into its music program. There, she had her first formal music instruction as well as some more personal struggles and applied both to finessing her craft even further.

“When I was little and listening to Johnny Cash, his songs were so sad, kind of slow and melancholy,” she says. “I didn’t understand what the words meant but I understood how they made me feel. In college, when I had my first taste of real depression, all of a sudden his songs and Hank Williams’s stories came true. I was like, ‘Holy shit! Now I actually know what those words meant!’ It was like a circle completing itself.”

One more circle led Jackson to her most critical step forward, when she and Mike Ness began working together. Their mothers had been friends in high school, which brought the two artists together. A short while after hearing her perform, he offered to mentor her. They assembled the band that’s been by her side since they came together. He agreed to produce Gilded as well.

“He gave me homework,” she points out. “He made me listen to Lucinda Williams’s Car Wheels On A Gravel Road and told me to listen only to that album for the next three or so months. That was the template of the album he wanted to create with me, so I picked from songs of mine that had a similar feel. If I didn’t have him, Gilded would have been a lot more scattered.”

That’s the key, right there. Gilded is a closed circuit, a masterwork of emotional honesty, of epic tales and intimate confessions. What’s scattered beyond, in songs long completed and many more yet to come, is a promise of more circles, more unique perspectives on hard lessons learned and too soon forgotten.

This is just the first you’ve heard from Jade Jackson. So much more lies ahead, for her and for us.