Adventurous song craft and audacious musical expression; Jas Patrick is an ascending artist with a profound commitment and an undeniable voice. For his latest EP, Tributaries, the Nashville-based singer-songwriter transformed into what he describes as a “mad scientist,” distilling his bounty of musical ideas into a tight recording schedule. The five songs reveal a mélange of rock, blues, R&B and world music delivered with a commanding authenticity.
While it may be tempting to compare Jas Patrick’s voice to those of other white soul interpreters, the origins of his grit and grace run deep: to Memphis, Muscle Shoals, and the classic sounds of one of his favorite vocalists, Motown great David Ruffin.
Being the front man was not his original intention, but from his first drum kit at age four, Jas was destined to be a musician. Over time, he moved with his family near Nashville, and garnered a coveted drumming spot backing a new country artist with a bus, a video on prime time CMT and a national tour, but the deal evaporated. A subsequent Japanese concert series with a huge pop/R&B act that wanted a young band similarly dissolved into an ether of frustration and disappointments.
Although Jas was writing his own songs, he didn’t consider himself a singer. “I tried to find someone to sing my songs, but never found a fit,” he recalls. Teaming up with management, Jas took a giant leap of faith in formulating his own record label (Tiny Lion Records) and stepping into the spotlight as a solo artist. He’s never looked back.
He describes his voice as “bark and butter,” and says his debut CD, Working on My Soul, exhibited more of the ‘bark.’ While the new songs retain an edge, they are tempered by a contrasting smoothness, the “butter,” a lubricating tone; the confident sound of an artist who has become very comfortable in his skin.
Jas is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist with a studied interest in the world styles that orchestrate Tributaries: Latin percussion, Arabic strings, a Japanese koto and the Indian tabla drums in the intro of “Donatist,” played in one magical pass.
Some of this ability might be in the bloodlines: Jas’ father is a consummate pedal steel player who has toured and recorded extensively with the award-winning artist Clint Black. That said, gaining the respect of his skeptical patriarch was a major breakthrough for Jas. In Nashville, a small community where so many young artists and musicians have families in the business, it might seem that nepotism rules. Not so. “He used to tell me I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket,” Jas laughs, “so I spent years training my voice.” But when his father finally saw Jas perform in a local coffeehouse, his response was, “When the hell did you learn to sing like that?”
Indeed: where does Jas Patrick’s sound come from? His songs are penned while sitting on a back bench of his touring van, overloaded with notebooks, swimming in chords and melodies, and as he says, “writing until my fingers fall off.” Perhaps it is this immediacy, this urgency that drives both the singer and the song. “I’ve broken free of a lot of shackles,” says Jas. With Tributaries, the trickle becomes a torrent, and a riveting new artist is on the rise.