Since first appearing on the popular music radar with his 2011 debut, Drake Jensen has demonstrated a healthy respect for tradition and willingness, if not eagerness, to defy convention within the country music genre. An openly homosexual performer in country music seemed scarcely imaginable when I was a young man, but times have changed, as they say, and for the better. The genre still has its issues with inclusiveness, but the doors are flung open wider than ever before and Jensen’s music shows that any distinctions we might make between performers based on trifling topics like sexuality, in the end, have nothing to do with artistic merit. “Talk Me Down”, his new single from the album Sideshow, overflows with the energy and confidence of a veteran performer and makes a deep impression on anyone willing to give it a chance
There’s really nothing separating this from any other song about a man or woman breaking up with someone of the opposite gender. This undeniable fact stresses the universality of such an experience – everyone who can love loves the same and distinctions based on sexual preference be damned. Jensen makes me believe from the first line on that he has been irrecoverably altered by the experience of separation from someone he passionately loves and the anguish laced through the song’s lyrics is phrased in such a way that you will feel every ounce of that pain.
We are in the hands of a masterful vocalist. Jensen’s Canadian upbringing proves to be no hurdle for him connecting with rock or traditional country turns and he sings with an combination of authority and sensitivity rare in any popular music genre. I am especially taken with how a voice with such outright lungpower is able to rephrase refrains and shift gears from verse to chorus with effortless aplomb. Jensen never sounds uncertain. He relates to this song from the beginning and you can hear his belief in both his own talent and the song’s value coming through.
The backing band for Jensen tops off the presentation with an expert and professional performance bubbling over with the same emotional fire. I am a big fan of guitar solos that make sense and work within the context of the particular song at hand and “Talk Me Down” doesn’t disappoint on this score. It’s an artful and melodic exclamation point at the song’s end avoiding all the nonsensical dross that too many guitar players embrace as their just due.
I’m not always a fan of country music. The modern incarnation of this popular genre too often sounds plotted out to the extreme, false, and pandering to lowest common denominators. There is no such feeling with this track. “Talk Me Down” has a strong rock strain running through this song but, ultimately, this is modern country music done right and lacking any of the absurdity so often characterizing current attempts in this style from lesser performers. Drake Jensen may be a indie country mainstay, but if he keep producing songs like this, I don’t expect he will be much longer.
CD BABY: store.cdbaby.com/cd/drakejensen13