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Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

Cody Jinks Talks Sober Things And Changes For The Better

cody jinks

Cody Jinks is a busy man these days, but not so much that he doesn’t have time to do some heavy thinking—and to put those thoughts into songs. And for him and many of his fans, the more personal they are, the better.

On his new album, which comes out today (March 22, 2024), the first thing on Jinks’ mind is alcohol. But in a reversal to the much more common party theme that’s prevalent in country music, a gentle strum of an acoustic guitar sets up a deep reflection on a major life change. In what feels like a prayer of confession, the opening track of Change the Game, “The Sober Thing,” documents his thoughts on giving up drinking. He wasn’t sure what was worse, he sings, “the nightmares or the hangovers, the sleepless nights or the passing out to finally get some rest.”

He touches on the topic more than once on the album. His own song “Wasted” points to a realization that it’s pointless to drink as a means of escape. A few songs later, he and guest vocalist Pearl Aday (daughter of the late Meat Loaf) serve up a satisfyingly soulful take on Faith No More’s introspective “Take This Bottle.”

Battling Ghosts & Demons

cody jinks sober

Though it certainly has its downbeat moments, Change the Game isn’t a completely somber affair, by any means, and it may give you plenty to think about well after it has stopped spinning. There are even ghosts that haunt in the middle of the night, which in Jinks’ world provide a welcomed relief from the scarier, unspecified demons that sometimes wake him in fright.

“This record’s got a lot of different emotions,” says Jinks. “I was angry, I was mad, I was scared, I was happy, and I was trying to find myself, so it’s very much searching. I write country songs that are more geared to what a punk song or a metal song would be. People don’t think of those genres as being vulnerable (in terms of lyrics), but they are.”

Rock Out with Outlaws & Mustangs

cody jinks

While the material often veers toward the dark, there are many moments of musical and lyrical levity. If upbeat rockin’ country is more your speed, Jinks’ spirit seems fully restored by the second track (and first single) “Outlaws and Mustangs.” The sharp-edged, steely “I Can’t Complain” keeps the groove going, and so does “Deceiver’s Blues,” with an almost jaunty bounce that lifts its serious message.

Much of the album eases down into mid-tempo territory, though, which seems to be where Jinks’ stellar band, the comically named Tone-Deaf Hippies, are at their absolute best. Consistently, song after song, the five backing musicians flavor the songs with tasteful layers of melodic finesse. And as usual, Jinks relies on the same musicians for the record that he does onstage, so you can be confident they won’t have any problem replicating the 12 songs on Change the Game live.

Live on Stage with Cody Jinks

cody jinks

On the concert stage, the title track of what is Jinks’ 11th studio album seems destined to serve as an anthem on Jinks’ career and his enviable rise as perhaps the premier face of independent country. Jinks has famously avoided contracting with an established record company and for a while now has acted as his own manager. The song “Change the Game” puts a spotlight and an exclamation point on how he’s doing things his way, calling his own shots, relying on grass-roots support and the survival instincts he honed when he started out in a metal band. There’s no doubt that the legions of super-fans in his audiences will be mouthing every word at shows for years to come.

Upshot: ‘Change the Game’ Rocks!

Editor’s Note: The album Change the Game and the song by the same name show that Jinks isn’t afraid to tell it like it is when it comes to baring his feelings or proudly tooting his own horn. These are the kinds of things that his followers love about him, and what makes them want to sit down and have a beer with him—if he still drank, that is. For tour dates and streaming some of the tracks from Change the Game, please visit codyjinks.com.

cody jinks

Musical Notes: Koe Wetzel, Chris Janson, Brantley Gilbert, Brian Kelley & Better Than Ezra
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