When it has come to music competition shows like The Voice and American Idol, I’ve found myself becoming more jaded each year about them. The golden age in terms of success for these shows was in the days of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, two of the biggest names to emerge from the music competition shows. Ever since there hasn’t been this level of star to emerge from the shows. Many of the winners and “big names” from the shows haven’t impressed me and have quite frankly been overrated. Then along came traditional country artist Jake Worthington in season six of The Voice in 2014. He went deep into the show and finished runner-up, all while singing songs from the likes of Waylon Jennings and Keith Whitley. I was intrigued and impressed by his performances, even some of the newer songs he sang (which didn’t seem to be entirely his choice). Worthington’s heart seemed to be with the traditional country though. I could sense it, so I was hopeful this would shine through whenever he would release his first original music. Now we find out with this self-titled debut EP. I can say without a doubt his traditional side shines through loud and clear in this EP.
The EP begins with Worthington singing of a honkytonk woman on “Don’t Let The Redneck (Fool Ya).” This woman is well versed on all of the tactics of prowling single men at the bar and isn’t easily taken off her feet. It’s an interesting song to hear coming from Worthington. It reminds me of something Brooks & Dunn would have recorded in the early 2000s with its rock country production. “Friends” is the type of song that suits Worthington very well. The song is about the value of friendships and how big of an impact they can make on your life. The song is very well written and most importantly comes off as sincere instead of corny, which can be a problem with a theme like this one. The production and instrumentation go great with Worthington’s vocals.
Love ballads are something that will suit Worthington well throughout his career and “That’s When” is a perfect example of why. The main hook of the song is how Worthington sings about how rivers running dry and clouds disappearing from the sky will be the day he stops loving his woman, which will be never of course. Worthington conveys the emotion of the song well and once again displays great sincerity in his performance. If he were looking to release a single to radio, this would be the first song I would send. “This Damn Memory” is the best song on the EP. The song is about how a man can’t shake the memory of the night he broke up with the woman he loved and how the silence now is just eating him up inside. This heartbreak ballad has everything you want in a country song from the sharp lyrics to the thick pedal steel guitar play. I can’t wait to hear more songs like this from Worthington. The EP closes with “Just Keep Falling In Love.” It’s a breezy, up beat love song that I’m sure many couples listening to it will enjoy and connect with. Once again it’s a solidly traditional country song that is arranged very well.
This EP demonstrates that Jake Worthington is sticking with a traditional sound and it’s a great sign to see. Worthington sounds like he came straight out of the neo-traditional era of country in the 80s with his Randy Travis-like voice. He’s a true country artist who understands what country music should sound like. This EP is a great starting point for his career and I look forward to hearing the first full-length album from him. Worthington is an artist country radio needs and with his very young age, he has the potential to have a long and meaningful career. Keep an eye on Jake Worthington.