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Jay Sims - Half Souls and Heals  
Review By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist
2/5/09

Friends, there’s country music. And there’s country music. In a modern and broad sense, and for popular radio play, there are two types. The second type comes from Texas. It’s a fine and revealing truth: Nashville may have the names, but Texas has a lot of the talent. Now before y’all start debating the truth of that, look at some of the names coming from the great Lone Star State.

It sure is impressive.

It’s a long list, but it includes legendary Bob Wills, Roy Orbison, George Jones, Lefty Frizzell, Johnny Horton and The Gambler himself, Kenny Rogers; there are also modern musical shakers like Cory Morrow, Pat Green, Brian Burns, Mark Chesnutt, Robert Earl Keen and the stadium favorite, George Strait. Texas has always been innovative, independent and outside the hype that often surrounds country music. Texas music speaks to a different audience. Texas music has a distinct sound, presence and feel. It’s different in unexplained ways. It’s solid. Enjoyably so, and these names prove that very point.

Jay Sims is someone many may not know. Yet. That could change. He, too, is from Texas. Born and raised in Lubbock, but now residing in Luckenbach, Sims has released the solid and satisfying Half Souls And Heals. For the versatile and traveled troubadour,” I play all over Texas,” the album is a welcomed blend of country, blues and Americana.

The album opens the first of twelve tunes, eight inked solely by Sims, with the plaintive Robbie Fulks tune “Real Money”. Moody and emotive, lyrically tough and sung with the right measure of ache, the interpretation shows Sims has the needed grit for a good tune.

Similar style and sentiment plays out on several tracks. With a voice that in part comes edged not unlike Kenny Rogers, Sims shows his full vocal worth on “Pawn Shop Diamond,” “Meet Me At The Mailbox” with it’s tale of shattered romance shared in letters not sent is a standout, so too, the fiddle soaked “Mercy And Grace”.

A perfect compliment to Sims’ country vocals is the band. On board is former guitar cohort of Lucinda Williams, Gurf Morlix. With a musical pedigree that space here won’t allow, this writer, player and producer has worked with many of the best. Given his involvement here, it speaks loudly Sims has the talent and style to attract and involve one of music’s brightest lights. Other noted band names in the 12-strong musical army include Ron Flynt, Michael Husted and Chris Whitten.

On an album that took time to win me, I’m so glad I stayed with it. Jay Sims has pulled together and delivered an album rich, interesting and offering a tight mix of thoughtful playing and memorable tunes.

Friends, there are two types of country music. If you’re looking for a pizza-shaped belt buckle and a verandah-sized Stetson, all wrapped in a CMT video, forget it. That’s the other type. Jay Sims is defiantly and definitely Texas -- the other kind of country music.

The album, available now, is out on Willing Records.


Click the pic to order from Amazon.com.

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