Album Review — Cody Jinks’ ‘The Wanting’

When Cody Jinks made the surprising announcement he’s releasing not just one new album, but two instead I was a bit concerned. Usually when an artist releases a double album or albums close to each other, it’s likely that the same amount of high quality isn’t maintained throughout. In other words, the artist stretches themselves too thin. But after listening to both albums, I can say that isn’t the case for Jinks. The Wanting is just as good as After The Fire.

The album’s title track essentially picks up right where After The Fire leaves off, as Jinks sings of his wanting to be with his family more and wishing that this wanting was enough. But it never is. What I love about the placement of this track as the opener is not only does it continue on from the last album, but it also perfectly leads into the major theme of this album, which is about the various internalized emotions experienced by Jinks when around family, friends, fans and on the stage. Tennessee Jet is a nice addition on backing vocals too.

“Same Kind of Crazy as Me” has quickly become one of the best songs I think Jinks has delivered so far in his career. Much like fan favorite “Hippies and Cowboys,” it’s a motto song from Jinks: it’s about who he is and what he stands for, while striving for a better world. I particularly enjoy this verse: “There’s more colors than red and blue, To paint the elephant in the room/We piss and moan about that and this, There’s always another ass to kiss.” It’s clever and catchy wordplay, along with delivering a message. I also enjoy the instrumentation on this song, with it’s thumping drums and twangy, melodic guitar play. In a fairer music world, this song would be a hit.

“Never Alone Always Lonely” looks inside the anxious minds of introverts like Jinks. This song shows just how much Jinks continues to grow as a songwriter, as he keenly shows a knack for breaking down his inner psyche and presenting it in a way that’s relatable and understanding. It’s an easier said than done skill that many artists wish they possessed. “Never alone always lonely/easy to find seldom seen” is a brilliant hook too, a credit to Jinks’ wife Rebecca for coming up with the second part of the line.

Jinks mentioned in his press release that The Wanting has moments and influences from rock and roll and “Whiskey” is one of those moments. And it’s great! The faded, echoing electric guitar is groovy and sticks with you, complimented well with some eerie steel guitar. This song makes me want a full-blown southern rock album from Jinks because he could release a great one if he’s inclined to do so. “Where Even Angels Fear to Fly” sees Jinks looking back on who he was and the hell he’s been through to get to where he’s at now. But it was these mistakes and experiences that helped get him to the better place he is now. It’s your classic reformed sinner wisdom song. It’s a solid track.

“Which One I Feed” refers to the two-headed wolf on the cover of the album: the sinister, black wolf side and the peaceful, white wolf side. Both live within him and dictate who he is, showing the duality that really lives within us all. I love the album art and this song just enhances it. The song would feel appropriate in an action thriller, as it has a larger than life, cinematic feel with it’s ominous backing chorus and the distant feeling of Jinks’ vocals. “A Bite of Something Sweet” is about striving for the lighter, happy side of life and getting away from the cloud. The heavy pedal steel guitar in this sounds great and fits the lyrics well.

“The Plea” is the one song between Jinks’ two new albums that doesn’t really do much for me and that’s because it’s a theme that’s already been covered so much between both albums and I’m really growing tired of it by the time I reach this song. This should have been left on the cutting room floor. “It Don’t Rain in California” is a solid, albeit unspectacular song. I feel like I’ve heard so many songs utilize California in songs about relationships and the sunny/rainy dichotomy. It’s still an enjoyable song and I do like how Jinks plays with reverb in various moments in it, as it’s a bit of a different side from him.

“Wounded Mind” is another cinematic feeling song, with its heavy emphasis on the steel guitar and pounding drums in the background. The song is about the brave face Jinks puts on when he goes on stage and is around fans, hiding the anxiety bubbling below the surface. It’s an understandable notion, although I have to say it feels like a bit of a humblebrag when he says he isn’t that special. Every artist, no matter how shy and introverted, has a bit of an ego that tells them otherwise. Other than this minor quibble, it’s a fascinating look into Jinks’ mind when he’s performing.

“Ramble” is a piano-driven ballad about keeping on keeping on. Once again, I like a new wrinkle from Jinks, this time a piano. Now he’s had songs with piano before, but not arranged so soft and slowly. It fits his voice well and I would like to hear more songs with this type of arrangement from him. “The Raven and The Dove” closes the album and it’s a great one. It’s another song that plays on the duality within us all, but what makes this song great is its singalong quality, toe-tapping melody, the scratchy guitar and the hints of western-flavored piano. It makes for quite the infectious track and ends the album on a real high note.

Cody Jinks delivers two high-quality albums within a week of each other, as The Wanting is an album full of deep introspection and some fun moments too. I would put it just ahead of After The Fire as the better of the dual releases. I applaud Jinks for (the most part) consistently keeping the same level of quality across both releases (along with not falling into the trap of a double album). It’s not easy and it shows why he’s considered by many to be amongst the best in country music today.

Grade: 8/10