Jon Byrd: Down At The Well Of Wishes
In this time of style over substance––of reality with a capital "R"––Nashville singer-songwriter Jon Byrd gives us something we can actually use: honesty. Down At The Well Of Wishes, the Alabama native's second solo recording, is a remarkably above-board piece of work that demonstrates his world-class songwriting and performing skills while remaining refreshingly devoid of pretense. If you can imagine Gram Parsons or The Byrds had they actually been accepted by the country music establishment, then you have an inkling of Down At The Well Of Wishes' straightforward mix of barroom exuberance and front porch restraint.
As with Jon himself, there's nothing forced about Down At The Well Of Wishes––no miasmatic caterwauling; no high speed picking; no obligatory reggae track. On Down At The Well Of Wishes, the songs do the work. From "When it Starts to Rain," a heartfelt acknowledgement of the trials we all share, to "In a Chest of Skin and Bone," written with longtime collaborator Butch Primm, its tracks get right to the heart of the matter––and tend to stick in your head long after the listening is through.
Recorded at Ocean Way studios in Nashville, Tennessee, Down At The Well Of Wishes pulls together some of Nashville's most respected talents, including Shannon and Adam Wright (The Wrights), Milan Miller (Patty Loveless, Grayson Capps, Gary Bennett), Pat Severs (Bill Anderson, The Everly Brothers), Marty Lynds (Marah, Last Train Home), Ed Adkins (The Derailers), and Jimmy Lester (Webb Wilder, Los Straightjackets)––all under the watchful eye of veteran producer R.S. Field (Billy Joe Shaver, Sonny Landreth, Justin Townes Earle).
Down At The Well Of Wishes comes as no surprise to those who've watched Jon work over the years. During the 90s, he was an integral part of Atlanta's storied Redneck Underground movement. His inventive yet understated Telecaster bending with bands like Slim Chance and the Convicts, and solo artists like country traditionalist Greta Lee, stands as a testament to that heady scene.
In 2001 Jon relocated to Nashville and began working with some of that city's finest songwriters and performers, including Davis Raines, Buck Jones, Stephen Simmons, and Suzette Lawrence. He co-produced Greta Lee's critically acclaimed recording You Must Be Present To Win and furthered his reputation as an empathic musician who can dazzle and support with equal measure.
But the move to Nashville had an ulterior motive. As a sideman, Jon had been long been performing his own compositions––if only one or two a night––but now he was ready to jump in with both feet. In 2004 he debuted Byrd's Auto Parts, a rambling collective of in-demand players who set about fleshing out Jon's original material. A self-titled cd followed, and the critics loved it: "A terrifically accomplished, versatile country singer," reported No Depression magazine.
Since then, Jon's songs have appeared on three Red Beet Records compilations––Red Beet is an East Nashville label known for their support of quality, if under-sung, songwriters like Peter Cooper and Fayssoux McLean. A duet with Amelia White, "Morning Song," was highlighted on that singer's 2009 recording, Motorcycle Dream." In the fall of 2010, Jon's composition "Silent Night" was the first single from Master Sessions, an Eric Brace and Peter Cooper recording that also featured steel guitar legend Lloyd Green. 2012 saw Jon's voice can featured on the Grammy nominated I Love: Tom T. Hall's Songs Of Fox Hollow, a tribute to Hall and that legendary recording, which also included Buddy Miller, Patti Griffin, Jim Lauderdale, Lloyd Green, Elizabeth Cook, Duane Eddy, and Bobby Bare.
Down At The Well Of Wishes was released EuroAmericana Radio in October of 2011 and to U.S. Americana and Far Chart stations in 2012. If you've been left cold by what passes for country singing and songwriting these days, give it a spin. Call it country, Americana, roots-rock, folk, or what have you, this record delivers––honestly.
"Americana the way it was and the way it should be." – Fred Dellar, MOJO Magazine
"Full of lovely guitar touches and brimming with clever, mordant songs" – Martin Chilton, The London Telegraph
"His dazzling sophomore album is a strikingly rich collection of nine Americana originals. The thing about Byrd is that he has a well-worn and rough voice that could draw a comparison to a more countrified Leonard Cohen…" – Zachary Houle, PopMatters
"… a mixture of Americana and country and is spellbinding showcasing a true genius at work." – Russell Hill, Maverick
"The vocals on Byrd’s new R.S. Field-produced album have the graciousness of Don Williams along with traces of Willie Nelson’s free-as-the-breeze delivery. To put it another way, Byrd’s an understatedly great singer. And the songwriting… applies a fresh, sharp, Southern vocabulary. He’s understatedly great at the writing part, too." – Jewly Hight, The Nashville Scene
"The 50 Top Songs on the American Condtition ~ Alabama Asphalt" April 2013 and "Top East Nashville Artists Right Now” May 2013 – The Alternate Root.com
"Smooth, affecting, classy country…mature experience to match the vocal finesse." – Barry Mazor, Engine145.com
"Clearly maintaining his standard, mature songwriting is married to some classy playing, whilst Jon's warm, slightly gruff but very relaxed singing holds the centre. ... Though he sings of heartbreak and regret, there's something enormously reassuring about Jon Byrd's music, a refuge in troubled times." – John Davy, No Depression
"[Down at the Well of Wishes is] a Classy record by anyone's standards… steeped in hard won wisdom it gains extra emotional resonance courtesy of Nashville guitar legend Jon Byrd's semi spoken vocal style" – Colin Hall, R2 Magazine UK
"Down at the Well of Wishes is 100% gin-yoo-wine, brothers and sisters, with allusions to Gram Parsons not at all out of place." – AcousticMusic.com