As the latest addition to Cracker Barrel’s exclusive CD music program, Jason Michael Carroll returns with Numbers, his first collection of new songs since 2009’s Growing Up Is Getting Old. Anchored by his deep southern drawl, Numbers showcases Jason Michael’s honest songwriting with 12 songs unafraid to face the truth.
Jason Michael wrote or co-wrote eleven of the twelve tracks on Numbers, and along with Patrick Davis and Mark Dearnley, serves as co-producer for the album as well. Being tied so closely to all aspects of the project seems to have carried over into a genuine feeling of honesty throughout the collection. On the mid-tempo, heartsick power ballad “Stray,” (co-written with Radney Foster), Jason Michael clearly acknowledges the intentions of the song’s love interest, singing You’re gonna stray and leave me standing alone/ You’re gonna stray, baby, your love’s already gone/ You don’t want to be here, it’s perfectly clear and you think you got it hidden away/ I know you’re gonna stray. The hard country “Can I Get An Amen” (co-written with Rivers Rutherford and George Teren) puts interesting twists on what would have been a more generic redneck anthem with lyrical jabs like, I believe in loud guitars, smoky bars and muscle cars/ pick-up trucks and gun control, as long as they leave mine alone. Compelling stories and the ability to express complex feelings through just the right words are a highlight here as Jason Michael conveys so much with his delivery.
Jason Michael’s voice is rich and full throughout the album as it twists and turns through clever melodies. Opening with the Western-edged “This Is For The Lonely,” full sounding drums, classic Telecaster guitar tones and loose pedal steel support his strong baritone singing, For all the hearts that had to break/ For all the nights you like awake/ For all the love not meant to be/ This is for the lonely. And over a chorus of big guitars on the adult contemporary-leaning “Don’t Know Why I Don’t,” he maneuvers complicated rhythms and a hook-filled melody singing, I don’t know why I don’t, stop everything, drop everything, and tell you I need you so/ What’s stopping me, I don’t know.
Also included is a bonus track pulled from Jason Michael’s 2007 debut album Waitin’ In The Country. His first single, “Alyssa Lies,” (which went Top 5 at Country radio) is a stinging traditional country piece written solely by him that deals with child abuse. It’s a topic that isn’t touched on often and Jason Michael illustrates tenderness, and talent, working through such a sensitive subject as he masterfully divulges details in the song. Four years later, with a new collection of songs on Numbers, Jason Michael continues to display an honest voice unafraid to shy away from hard, truthful songwriting.