There’s something in the water in the land of Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets, as CMChatLive.com can definitely attest. One look at the charts these days, and you see names like Aldean, Moore, and Swindell – among others – who are all from the state of Georgia. Hoping to join those ranks – as our #OneToWatch” for September is Jasper native Jacob Bryant.
His childhood was pretty much by the Georgia book. “Growing up, there was a lot hunting and fishing and going to church.” Music also was a part of his upbringing. “I also went to a lot of Bluegrass shows with my grandparents, which is how I got involved with music,” he recalls. In addition to those Bluegrass sounds, he was also listening to a lot of Traditional County. “I remember hearing a lot of Keith Whitley and George Jones, and just being enamored with them. My nanny always made sure I was in Church, so I listened to quite a bit of Gospel too.”
It was that exposure to Gospel that helped shape his career focus. “I played in a Praise and Worship band when I was about 15 years old. That’s what made me realize what I wanted to do for a living. I started playing a lot of open mic nights, and from there, I began to write music with a lot of the local guys, and giving demo tapes out to a lot of the people at the local bars and places like that. I ended up quitting my day job and going to do it full time.”
Word of Bryant’s talent led to a Nashville songwriter approaching him about collaborating, and he has been working at developing his craft ever since. “I started to build relationships and began to network. Eventually, I ended up meeting my manager, Jeff Catton.”
Coming to Nashville was definitely an eye opening experience. “It was intimidating because there is a good player or a good singer on every street corner – and they are all as every bit as good as you are. It’s a city of dreams for sure.”
Those dreams included Bryant releasing his self-titled debut EP, which helped him get ready for the just-released follow-up, Through The Windshield. “I think the important thing for me – as far as growth goes – was learning how to work with a producer. Cutting demos back home, I could do what I wanted, but when a producer becomes involved, there’s another person telling you ‘This might sound better’ or ‘Have you thought about this?’ It’s cool having all these opinions from people. I think having had that experience, I knew what I was in store for.“
Of the five tracks on Through The Windshield, Bryant had a hand in writing three – “Where Has The Time Gone,” “Save My Soul” (co-written with Jon Lawhon of Black Stone Cherry) and the title cut. He found the other two songs from some of Nashville’s top writers – “Just Enough Jesus” was written by Bridgette Tatum and Danny Myrick, and “Holding On To Home” is from the pen of Adam Craig.
“Through The Windshield” is definitely an emotional song for Bryant. “That one is talking about being on the road, and you’re seeing all this beautiful country, but what you really want to see is the person you love running out to see you when you get home. I live on a three mile dirt road, and there’s a part in the chorus that talks about the ‘rumble underneath your feet’ and ‘the peace I feel when I turn on that road. Whatever I see in that windshield isn’t greater than seeing home.’ It just makes me feel good.”
Bryant is also not afraid to show his spirituality, as he does on a couple of cuts on Through the Windshield. “I grew up with a strong faith. ‘Save My Soul’ talks about what happened when my mother passed away. I’ve never been one to filter much of anything, and when that happened, I pretty much went on a really bad binge of alcohol and a few other things. My wife, Lauryn, pretty much saved my life. It was a fight with the devil, which is what that song is about.” He also touches upon that cornerstone with “Just Enough Jesus.” Of the song, he said “It’s kind of the same principle – you can drink or do whatever to get your mind off of things but sometimes you’ve just got to get on your knees and pray about it. I find inner peace that way a lot better.”
And, of course, Bryant also finds that solace when he’s in his natural habitat – the stage. “As long as I can play music, and do what I love for a living, and people are liking it – I’m blessed.”
Purchase Through The Windshield at iTunes.