Fun, family, friends and faith.
They’re the cornerstones of life for Jason Blaine. So no wonder they inspired the title — and the music — of his fifth album Everything I Love, out July 9 on eOne Music Canada.
“I just wanted to share all the sides of my personality,” explains the 33 year old singer songwriter, husband and father from Pembroke, Ont. “I like to cut up with friends and play a little too loud. My family’s really important to me. And in recent years, I’ve had a kind of spiritual awakening. Entering my 30s, I finally found balance in my life and got my priorities right. I learned you can have a little bit of fun on Saturday night and be at church on Sunday morning. That’s really where I’m at. In fact, I toyed with the idea of calling the record Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. But really, there’s much more Saturday night than there is Sunday morning on the album.”
He ain’t whistling Dixie. Fun comes first and foremost on the upbeat and celebratory Everything I Love, as anyone who’s heard the leadoff single Rock It Country Girl knows. Driven by a lightly funky hick hop groove, laced with a twangy guitar lick and a plucky banjo hook, and topped with cheeky lyrics like “All that caboose on your choo choo train ’bout knocked me off my tractor,” the song — co written with frequent collaborator Derek Ruttan and Nashville ace Jim Beavers — sets the tone and tempo for the 12 song disc. Make no mistake; from the southern friend country honk of Get a Little Wrong Tonight to the afternoon‐delight ode Way Too Pretty and the twangy shuffle Friends of Mine, this is an album that knows how to crank the guitar and kick up its heels.
But in keeping with Blaine’s balanced approach, it also knows when to set both feet firmly on the ground, with songs that celebrate simple joys, universal truths and down to earth values. “At the end of the day, when the stage lights come down and I get off the plane or the tour bus and I come home, I’m just a husband and a father,” says Blaine, who lives in Nashville with his wife and three children. “And I can never make a record without a song for the people I love most in my life: My wife and kids. You’ll find that in songs like Always You.” And you’ll find the Sunday morning element in Tears on a Bible, an episodic ballad of faith during strife that closes the disc on a moving, tender note.
Of course, that brand of personal, no bull honesty is nothing new for Blaine. It’s been his stock in trade since his first single in 2003: The tellingly titled That’s What I Do. His independent full length debut, While We Were Waiting, came out in 2005 and included the Top 25 singles Heartache Like Mine, While We Were Waiting and What I Can’t Forget. The follow up Make My Move arrived in 2008 on Koch (now eOne) and hit the Top 5 on the Canadian country chart thanks to singles like the Top 10 Rock in my Boot and Top 5 Flirtin’ With Me. On 2010’s Sweet Sundown, he dug deeper, thanking overseas peacekeepers on Heroes. And on 2011’s Life So Far, he pushed himself even harder with heartfelt songs like You Can, Til’ the Sun Burns Out and They Don’t Make Em’ Like That Anymore, a tribute to his grandfather. That song helped turn 2012 into a banner year for Blaine, who earned CCMA nominations for Male Artist, Single of the Year, Songwriter, & Producer. Life So Far turned out three Top 10 singles, including On a Night Like This, Cool and They Don’t Make ’Em Like That Anymore, who won Single of the Year at the Canadian Country Music Awards, and whose video hit No. 1 on CMT Canada.
Ultimately, the success of They Don’t Make ’Em Like That Anymore and the introspective stocktaking of Life So Far set the stage for the fun filled Everything I Love.
“That album was really a time of reflection for me. I covered all the personal topics I wanted to cover—there was a song for my wife, a song for my children, the song for my grandfather. I poured my heart into that, and was so overwhelmed at the way it was received. So after that I got to thinking, ‘Where do I go from here?’ I really just wanted to hand it back to the fans and make an album that I, as a country fan, would want to hear. That’s why the overall tone of this album is entertaining. I literally made a list of themes I wanted to cover. I wanted to write as many up tempo, crowd friendly songs as I could. I wanted to have a lot of singles. I wanted to breathe new life into my set list. I wanted songs that people could sing along to. I wanted something that would surprise people—something they might not expect to hear from me if they only know me for They Don’t Make ’Em Like That Anymore.” To achieve that, he enlisted the services of some of Nashville’s top musicians, along with producer/engineer Scott Cooke, whose resume includes everyone from Nickelback to Jake Owen and Florida Georgia Line. “I lean a little bit more country and he leans a little bit more rock ’n’ roll,” explains Blaine, “so he really brought an edge to this record — an excitement in the music that worked well and that I was definitely looking for. I wanted to make a record that was competitive and relevant for where country is at as a genre right now, and that would stand up and hold its own with stuff that’s really happening on the radio now. So the guitars are beefed up with a bit more crunch and energy. But I still love the sounds of traditional country — steel guitar and banjo and mandolin. Those tones and colours are what make it country for me. So it’s got both those elements.”
And if the raucous energy that drives Everything I Love might surprise some who only know Blaine from They Don’t Make ’Em Like That Anymore, that’s just the way he likes it.
“I felt last year like some people might have come out solely to see me perform that song and seen a different show than they expected. Don’t get me wrong; that song is completely special to me. It’s a career song. But it’s just three minutes and 40 seconds long. And it’s just one part of me. I also like to play my electric guitar loud. I feel like I come alive on stage when our band is really connecting and I’ve got my guitar in my hand and take a solo. That sets my soul on fire. And this album most closely reflects my live show, more than any other album.”
But more than that, it reflects his growth, maturity and confidence as a singer, songwriter, performer and person after 17 years in music — more than half his life.
“That’s been dawning on me lately,” says Blaine, who picked up a guitar at age 8, joined his father’s hobby band at 16 and has a business degree from Ottawa’s Algonquin College. “I’m getting to where I feel qualified to be doing what I’m doing. A lot of things about it are starting to make sense, and things that were harder before are coming much more naturally and easier. I’ve toured enough and been around enough to know that there is no pleasing everybody all the time. And I’m OK with that.
Jason Blaine is available for corporate events, private shows, milestone celebrations (birthday, anniversary), fundraisers, festivals, and more.