The soulful Texas singer-songwriter talks about her upcoming album, Jumping Over Rocks, and gives C&I readers an exclusive first listen.
Jamie Lin Wilson’s latest venture, Jumping Over Rocks, bears all the wonderful hallmarks of her successful debut album, Holidays & Wedding Rings. Her music showcases a real gift for communicating confusing romance and unimaginable loss with vivid storytelling and vocal verve.
A native of D’Hanis, Texas, a tiny town outside of San Antonio, Wilson draws on the quiet moments, presenting the personal with sly humor and easy grace. The key is her clear, gliding vocals.
Recently, we caught up with Wilson to talk about the new record, working with legendary guitarist Charlie Sexton, and her upcoming tour. Get an exclusive first listen to Jumping Over Rocks at the end of the interview.
Cowboys & Indians: You’re about to release your new album, Jumping Over Rocks. What do you hope your fans will take away from the music?
Jamie Lin Wilson: Something. I just want them to listen to the songs and make their own way with each one. I gave it my all and put it out there, so I just hope it resonates with folks in some way. It’s not really my place to dictate how it plays out in the listener’s mind, I guess.
C&I: What inspired the album?
Wilson: Sounds clichéd, and I guess it is, but really, just life in general. The beauty and brevity of it, the mistakes along the way, the nuance, the coincidences, the serendipity, the hard-crushing reality of it all. I tried to pay attention to the people and the stories around me and write from more of a third party’s point of view, rather than always personal. But I did sneak some of my own experiences in there as well.
C&I: You recorded the album live over a period of four days with talented musicians like Charlie Sexton. What was that like?
Wilson: The players I got for this record were hand-picked according to the overall sound and vibe that [producer] Scott Davis and I were looking for. Charlie is one of the greatest guitar players in the world. To have him put his take on my songs was a dream, really. His tone sounds like a dream. All the players were into cutting live and are used to it. Three of them were or are in the same band [Band of Heathens], and you can’t imagine the value of having players who know and can read each other that way. So, the live recording process was a breeze, actually. As long as I did my part, I could trust the guys to do theirs. Hire great musicians and let them do their thing. It’ll work out.
C&I: How is it different from the normal recording process?
Wilson: I believe that when everyone is in the room cutting live, you allow the song to breathe. It takes on a life of its own. The players listen to each other and to me. As the vocals intensify, so does the track, and vice versa. We played off of and with each other, instead of on top of each other.
C&I: What types of challenges did you run into?
Wilson: In reality, none. We kept waiting to hit a snag, but it never happened. Actually, we kept saying, “Surely, it can’t be this easy.” We even accepted the first mix.
C&I: Any fun stories during the overall process?
Wilson: The most fun thing to me is that I finished two of the songs, “Death & Life” and “In a Wink,” in my hotel room across the street that week. I knew I wanted both those songs, but they both took forever for me to write. They showed up just in the nick of time.
C&I: What do you think helps a song or a story resonate with an audience and create a hit? “Death & Life” for instance— you’ve said it percolated for four years. …
Wilson: With me, the most resonant songs are the ones that are about real life with no frills. Songs that are true from start to finish, real anecdotes from folks around me, with a little bit of my own observation thrown in. I don’t know that it’s a hit, but I hope that listeners get something out of it, or just connect with it in some way. It’s pretty heavy, but meaningful to me.
C&I: What's your writing style? Do you start with the lyrics or the music first?
Wilson: Most of the time, it comes at the same time. Once I have a melody established, I can go on and write without a guitar. Most of the time the shower is where it all comes together. But I usually start it all with both words and melody.
C&I: How do you think you’ve evolved as an artist since the release of your first album?
Wilson: I think that all these years of being in bands and then going on my own have been teaching me what and how I get to say things for myself. Writing for a band is different than writing for myself, so it took Holidays & Wedding Rings to kinda suss out what that was going to be. And then I went a little further, took a few more chances with Jumping Over Rocks. I’m more confident now, I think, but at the same time, question myself at every turn. I think that’s normal.
C&I: What can we expect in terms of touring?
Wilson: I’m on the road right now, pretty busy through the end of the year. I just had my fourth baby in August, so you can expect me to be doing everything I possibly can, all at the same time — and possibly not remembering any of it. We’ve got some Oklahoma and Midwest stuff coming up, and some acoustic shows in Texas in December. Festivals in January. It’s busy. I like it. I hate it. I love it. I’m tired. I’m excited. We’ll see how it goes.
Get a first listen to Jumping Over Rocks, below.
For more information on Jamie Lin Wilson and her new album, visit her website.