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Gone Country: Cody Jinks’ ‘Lifers’ is all about working toward what’s just over the horizon

Jake Harris
Country musician and Texas native Cody Jinks performs on the second weekend of the Austin City Limits Festival Oct. 14. 10/14/17 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The album art for Cody Jinks’ new album “Lifers” (out Friday) centers on an old man, wizened and grey. His long and shaggy hair and lengthy beard cover his face. He’s dressed in what look like jeans, boots and a jacket. He carries a walking stick. He’s moving through the desert, slouching toward a tree at the end of a dirt road. He’s constantly looking to the horizon, trying to see what’s over that next ledge. He looks like an older version of the man who adorned the cover of Jinks’ last album, 2016’s “I’m Not The Devil.”

Related: Fort Worth Weekly asks, ‘What happened to Texas Music?’ Here it is. 

The old man here is an avatar for Jinks (in case the long beard didn’t tip you off). Ever since the former metalhead from Fort Worth tapped back into his country roots with 2010’s “Less Wise,” Jinks has been pushing himself to outdo himself at every turn. At this point, he’s released four albums and an EP and has amassed a cult following in Texas. He’s got an army of fans who support him on social media. He sold out The Ryman in Nashville earlier this year. He’s starting his own festival, the Loud and Heavy Fest, in August at Fort Worth’s Panther Island Pavilion. 

And yet Jinks seems to still have found the type of success that can be measured by money and airplay only in Texas. But that doesn’t mean he’s given up. No, it just means the man works harder. And that’s what “Lifers” is all about.

Related:Here’s Cody Jinks covering Pink Floyd

The title song may talk about how “this one’s for the lifers, the struggling strivers, working long after the day is done,” but every song here is about searching for something elusive just over that horizon. Love. Fame. A song. Hell, “Colorado,” is about a prospector searching for gold. It’s the most cohesive album Jinks has released to date. 

The sound here is nothing new, as Jinks fans will be accustomed to the singer’s deep baritone, plodding bass (courtesy of Joshua Thompson) and boom-chicka-boom drums (courtesy of David Colvin). There’s still steel guitar (courtesy of Austin “Hot Rod” Trip) and different time signatures aplenty. But the consistency with Jinks is a feature, not a bug. The only thing that sounds a but different is the organ (supplied by Drew Harakal) in “7th Floor,” one of the album’s standout tracks. It’s comforting, knowing exactly what you’ll get when you listen to a Jinks album. He’s an outlaw by today’s standards, but his music is accessible. 

More: Dwayne Johnson is apparently a big Cody Jinks fan

Jinks has done virtually no press for this album, save for album screeners and promotion for his fans. The songs speak for themselves here, the work ethic espoused in his songs coming full circle in real life. Hopefully Jinks will keep “chasing that song” for a while. “Lifers” is just the latest testament to one of the hardest working artists in country music today, and hopefully it’s about to pay off with widespread success.