The Melody of One Life
On the “not” side of the ledger, you’re spared any cheese — in the lyrics or in the sound. Unlike some other contemporary country songs, in a Jinks tune there’s no crossover trendiness, shiny production, overprocessed vocals, or smuggled-in dance beats. There’s zero deference to pop music slickness of any kind. He doesn’t even sing about fun-loving, pickup-truck-powered lifestyles where it’s always summer and babes abound.
Nothing against such a lifestyle, which sounds better than a lot of ways to spend time on this planet. It’s just that Jinks’s inner song compass sends him in a different direction — down a grittier, darker, more real-world road than the paths you find in what’s been dubbed “bro country,” or in the more mainstream-focused country that’s gotten the big radio play over the years, and hews to what’s been called the “Nashville sound.”
In music made by this 39-year-old Fort Worth singer-guitarist, you get an anvil-steady baritone voice — the Texan’s pipes are strong, with a weathered quality, like he’s racked up a lot of mileage on those internal roads. The sound is stripped-down. He’s got an introspective mind-set that falls to brooding with or without the help of whiskey. And he sings lyrics about what tears us up the most inside (like losing love), the state of the world, the anchors of family and friends, and working your tail off at your chosen trade or profession.
In a Jinks song, there’s no sugarcoating. People might chase dreams, but that doesn’t mean they grab ahold of them — life is trickier than that. And some of those who do get to the top, especially the people running things, don’t always get there honestly, with integrity, by dint of their own grindstone efforts.
Jinks has great respect for regular people who stay at it, day in, day out, busting their humps, not complaining, like the woman in “Lifers” — also the name of his 2018 album, which hit No. 2 on the Billboard country chart — who for 20 years has been sticking with her dream of breaking through in Nashville.
“Here’s to the lifers/ The struggle-and-strifers/ Workin’ long after the day is done,” Jinks sings, having saluted a third-generation Waco farmer in an earlier verse, a guy with “mouths to feed and cattle to run.” As for his Nashville dreamer, who came to town “with a guitar and a song,” she’s been “playin’ them rooms but she ain’t got far,” yet there’s a “fire in her soul” that can’t be quenched, and she doesn’t listen to the naysayers.
“They don’t give up and they don’t give in/ When things don’t go their way,” sings this married father of two. And here he might be talking about his own first decade in the music business, which featured a ton of touring, a band breakup, a jump from one music genre to another, and zero help from record labels.
Tall and lean, with a brown bushy beard, tattooed arms, and a preference for T-shirts and jeans, Jinks spent his first six years as the howling, growling singer and rhythm guitarist in a thrash metal band called Unchecked Aggression. A fan of Pantera and Metallica, inspired by Dimebag Darrell and James Hetfield, Jinks gigged perpetually with his band, loading that van a thousand times, until early this century, on a hellish road trip to L.A., when the unit dissolved in the midst of copious drinking and constant squabbling.
Jinks, then 23, gave his frayed voice a rest, pondered his future, and stayed off stages for months. He had a year of junior college under his belt, a freight-dock loading job on his résumé, and not a lot to show for his Texas metal band tenure.