Wow, I thought, as I listened to 'sins, lies and angels' for the third time around, what an amazing album. There was not one song on it that I didn't enjoy. I knew Jason McCoy was a Canadian country singer but that's about all; how could I not have known more of this incredible talent? Well, it turns out that I must have had my head in the sand as I found out that Jason has been a popular recording artist since 1995. However, his latest album has catapulted him even further into the public's eye. I'm sure many of you read Tim Ruzgar's rave review of this album in the UK Linedancer as well as Barry Durand's 5 star review n 5678 Dance and I'll share with you a smattering of other reviews.
From Todd Stirling of Country Review, 'With Sins, Lies And Angels the Ontario native has taken a giant leap forward, scaled the highest creative peaks and returned with a crafted collection that defies categorization. . Sins, Lies And Angels is a buffet of great writing that leaves you feeling full but still wanting more. This is as good as anything coming out of Nashville at the moment.'
Riks Reviews notes that 'The CD is hands down the best CD he (Jason) has produced to date. Taking elements of everything from honky tonk troubadour to contemporary radio friendly tracks and country purist, the songwriting throws a wide range of emotions at the listener with equal parts crying, loving, and leaving.'
Anika Van Wyk of the Calgary Sun writes that 'Jason McCoy has grown into one of Canadian country music's best offerings. He entertains, educates and seduces on this outstanding mature effort, on which he writes all but three of the tracks. McCoy may not come close to the selling power of fellow-Canuck Shania Twain, but musically he's every bit a superstar as she is.'
It was definitely time to do find out more about this talented individual and that involved chatting with the friendly, open Jason McCoy himself. I discovered that Jason was born in the tiny town of Minesing in my home province of Ontario. He grew up listening to his father's huge country music collection. Then, when he was five his family moved to Alberta for three years and he still remembers his reverence for the local cowboys! Although Jason liked rock 'n roll as a young teenager, even owning a rock 'n roll guitar, his heart was with country and in the 80s he joined a country band and hasn't looked back since.
Jason's heroes were singer/song writers like Merle Haggard and George Jones. Even as a youngster he was very aware of the whole package. He would turn to the back of the album to see who the song writer was and was most impressed if that same writer also sang and played guitar. So it was natural for him to emulate his heroes and his song writing talent has resulted in numerous awards. But let's go back to beginning of his career At the tender age of 16 Jason won a local talent contest which took him to Nashville to record an album. Even though Jason owns up to a left over pile of copies of the independent album in his attic, he reckons a few of the songs on the album demonstrated his potential for song writing. His next step was playing and singing on the road with traveling bands throughout Canada and the US. At the same time, every spare moment he had he wrote and determinedly continued to send demos to MCA Canada (now Universal) which eventually signed him in 1994. His debut album released in 1995 resulted in 3 tracks reaching no. 1 on the country charts. The follow-up album produced two top 10 hits, then his 2000 release 'Honky Tonk Sonatas' yielded 4 hits in the top 15.
Jason's style of country meanders on both sides of the traditional and new country dividing line. Jason noted that what many consider a fairly recent debate about new vs. traditional country music has in fact been around forever. He remembers the heated debate about the music of traditional country singers like Merle Haggard versus newcomers such as Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. Jason offered the song 'Islands in the Stream' as an example of new country at that time and was intrigued to learn that one of our line dance standards is the dance to this song. Although he professes to two left feet, Jason is familiar with line dancing as his uncle, Guy Brooks, instructs in Calgary and Jason was delighted to think of us dancing to his music.
Jason's career has taken him all over the world from the Caribbean, to the Yukon and the North West Territories. He has traveled extensively throughout the US and Canada and down under to Australia where he recently toured promoting 'sins, lies and angels' which was very well received. He will shortly be heading back down to Nashville which he thinks of as his second home and he and his wife Terrine have an apartment there, and then on to the Persian Gulf for a couple of weeks entertaining the Armed Forces . He will be making a Christmas Special in Ontario and then the festival season starts and he will be touring North America for the summer. A busy man indeed! Jason has also performed with many great country singers including Shania Twain, Terri Clark and Martina McBride and Gary Allen was a guest on his last album.
Jason said he would love to tour the UK. His mother was a member of the Campbell Clan from the Isle of Islay and one of his grandfather's cousins was Wishart Campbell who, as well as being the curator of Campbell Castle, was known as the Golden Voice of the Airwaves on the CBC in the 1950s. So Jason comes by his golden voice honestly!
Jason is very excited about the response to his new album and told me that the recently released single 'Still' (which he co-wrote) has just jumped to #5 on the BDS chart. This sensuous song inspired my dance 'Still Waters'. The album is full of creative, lyrical song writing, excellent vocals and outstanding musical arrangements. It is also a wonderful dance album and I have written dances to two other tracks, 'Thrown Out of Love', (dance - Castaway)a great swing track and the 'yester-year feel' track of 'Old Chunk of Coal' (dance - Diamond in the Rough)..
I asked Jason what he thought his greatest achievement has been and he reckoned staying in the country music industry for so long and staying with the same girl for 15 years! In response to a question as to what alternative route he might have taken with his life, he told me that both his father and sister are pilots, his sister with Air Canada. Jason himself at the age of 17 was the youngest licensed pilot in Canada so the skies lost a good pilot but fortunately for us the country music world gained an incredibly talented musician/singer/songwriter.