Jason Eady and his producer, acclaimed singer-songwriter Kevin Welch, had been discussing the possibility of recording a traditional-sounding country album for quite some time during songwriting sessions at Welch's Texas home. Finally, the two realized that the time for talking about it had ended, and it was time to put up or shut up.
Needless to say, they definitely "put up." Eady's latest album, "AM Country Heaven," debuted at No. 40 on the Country Albums chart last week, as well as No. 9 on Heatseekers -- without the benefit of a hit single at radio. The Texas artist says it goes to show the passion that fans and listeners have for traditional sounds.
"One of the biggest reasons for us when we started making this album was that people were as hungry for the traditional sound as we were," he said in an exclusive interview for Billboard. "That's proven to be true with those that have heard it. There's a hunger for it out there, and people just haven't been getting it. I think the desire for that music is as strong as it's ever been."
The album has quickly become a favorite of fans and critics alike, thanks to the 1970s sound of the album. Many have remarked the disc has a similar feel to some of Merle Haggard's music of that period for MCA, such as "Red Bandana" and "The Way I Am."
Eady told Billboard those sounds were very much in their minds when recording. "We were listening to that style a lot. We were talking about how records really don't sound like that anymore. We just analyzed records and listened to them, and tried to capture the essence of them and the feel of them without just copying them and making a Merle Haggard record."
Of particular interest to some will be the title cut, where the singer laments about the days "When the women were ugly, and the men were all forty years old." Eady says that it is a statement on the current situation in country music.
"That line specifically is something I think about all the time," he admits. "I think about someone like KT Oslin or John Conlee -- people who made such an impact on music, but would never have a shot now. It's all based on appearance and age. To be forty and on the radio is kind of like the upper end of where you can be. When Willie and Waylon were doing their thing - this great movement in country music, they were all in their forties. I hate what's happened as far as going after the demographics."
Adding another layer of tradition on the album is Patty Loveless's appearance on "Man On A Mountain." Eady says he can't believe his ears when he hears himself singing with the legend.
"It's still pretty unbelievable to me that happened. I've been a fan of hers as long as I can remember. When we were done writing that song, we said 'We need to get someone like Patty Loveless to do that song.'"
Welch agrees, saying in no uncertain terms that "Patty sang her ass off on that, and you can quote me on that," he says with a laugh. "She's always been great, and she still is."
Eady said that having Welch as producer of the disc was huge. "I've been a fan since I was six years old. I own every record he's ever put out. He produced my last album, and I would go down to his house and talk music, and write songs. That's where the idea for this record came about -- was talking about how much we wanted to make a traditional country record one day, and we kept talking about it 'one day,' until he finally said 'Now's the time.'"