The Jackstones’ new album Love Badly reminds me a lot of a novel in that in each track, we’re privy to an individually structured story that introduces us to new characters and devices that advance the narrative and general plot of the entire piece, and as we move forward through the record these characters are developed further, adding depth and texture to the story as we go. I don’t know for certain whether or not they were trying to design their own progressive concept album or not, but the cohesiveness of this set of songs is something that I feel like every band, country or straight rock for that matter, really dreams about creating when they first step into the studio to hammer out a full length album. Love Badly is a follow up to their highly praised debut What Brings You Here, and anyone who was impressed by their first effort will be absolutely blown away by what the guys have in store for us this time around.
As many of us who listened to What Brings You Here learned back when The Jackstones dropped it in 2014, this band doesn’t have to try all that hard to be able to relate to their audience sincerely and distinctly. Unlike a lot of bands that perform with their caliber of talent, The Jackstones make a strong point to never let their egos or individual sense of self identity get in the way of their connection with the listener on a personal, intimate level. That in itself makes their sound incredibly easy to market and a perfect fit for this present climate in popular music, when audiences feel more disconnected from the singers on the radio than ever before. The Jackstones are like a breath of fresh air.
The key theme behind the bulk of material that we find on Love Badly is letting go, embracing the change and still finding a way to hold onto what is here and now, something that satisfies many of the needs Americans collectively have in 2018. The fact that they express this poignant narrative through such explosively awesome music, from the swinging, countrified blues jam “Dirty Stuff” to the blistering guitar rock of “Obstacle Course,” is just an added bonus, but let me tell you, it’s a pretty hefty one. Both lyrically and musically, it’s hard to find any flaws in Love Badly, and that’s not all that common for a band barely into their sophomore record. They’ve got a long road ahead of them, but at this stage of the game, The Jackstones are making the statement that not only are they here to stay, but they’re going to keep bringing as much heat as they can both in the studio and out. There’s more room for growth, which isn’t a bad thing, as there’s plenty of time for this talented bunch to work out the kinks as they chase international exposure, critical acceptance and audience adulation. In short, Love Badly is the record that we needed to hear right now, and it lives up to everything that we could have expected from them.