Jason Hawk Harris Debuts Rollicking New Track 'I'm Afraid': Exclusive

Jason Hawk Harris
Sean Rosenthal

Jason Hawk Harris

It takes a little moxie to take on Jesus Christ, but Jason Hawk Harris is up to the task on "I'm Afraid."

The song, premiering exclusively via Billboard on Monday (July 22) from his upcoming debut album Love & the Dark, is a high-speed honky tonk burner that has Harris recalling his Christian upbringing. On the track he notes, "No monster ever scared me like the face of Jesus Christ" and promises that "when I talk to Jesus I want to ask him to his face/ why'd you make this shit so hard, Lord it feels like I've been played."

Harris isn't the only one drawing on those sentiments in the song. The singer-songwriter, whose first musical exposure was in the Houston area church where his father was a worship leader, recalls a discussion with a friend who grew up “in a very Catholic household.”

"He was telling me this story about how his mom had hung up all this really scary Catholic iconography of Jesus above his bed -- Jesus holding his heart in his hand, had the crown of thorns on and maybe a little blood dripping down,” Harris tells Billboard. “My friend told me, 'Yeah, I wasn't afraid of the boogeyman or the monster in the closet or under the bed. I was afraid of Jesus.' That made a lot of sense to me in my own struggle and peace I made with my religious upbringing.”

Fascinated by his friend’s story, Harris asked if he could use the idea for a song while adding parts of his own story. His friend gave Harris permission and “I’m Afraid” was written.

The Love & the Dark album is the first solo effort by Los Angeles-based Harris following his tenure in the band the Show Ponies. Produced by Andy Freeman and due out Aug. 23 on Bloodshot Records, it was recorded in both Nashville and North Hollywood over the span of three years.

The album's nine songs also represent something of a catharsis, as Harris runs through the fire and brimstone of dark times. There are songs including addiction (his mother from alcohol-related causes), illness, and an assortment of other family and life issues.

"A lot of turmoil happened to be going on at the same time as I was coming into my own as a writer, and this is what came out," Harris explains. "These are the first nine songs I've been comfortable putting out to the world. I think these songs were the best ones I'd written in the past seven or eight years.

"I would also say there's a hopeful kind of tone in the lyrics on this record, but I can't help but to be direct, even when I try to be more subtle and smarter about how I talk about these things. Ultimately, I think people have related more to that than if I were to be more poetic or veiled."

Listen to the new track below.