I’m going to ask you to step outside your comfort zone. I’m not asking you to jump out of a plane, go to work without coffee or babysit your friend’s cat. I’m going to ask you to do something much tougher.
Listen to rock-country.
Jeff Ray is labeled as Americana slash rock slash country. The talented singer-songwriter certainly has John Mellencamp/Tom Petty/38 Special influences; you can hear it in the music. Add in a dose of what sounds like pop-country, and Ray’s music is also something much more likely to be on your mom’s playlist than your own. However, his single off his new album, Our Little Town, is a track worthy of a listen no matter your gender, age or demo; Yes, even for you cat lovers.
“Somebody’s Cryin” was recorded as a tribute to Ray’s friend, James Greathouse, who committed suicide. In fact, the song was written by Greathouse himself, further compounding the power of the track.
As a self-described outspoken advocate for suicide prevention, Ray received permission from Greathouse’s family to record his friend’s song, making it the album’s first single before recording a music video. The hope is that it will “reach out and provide positivity and hope for those that find themselves in similar circumstances,” according to Ray.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention also gave their full support of the song as well.
“There’s a real deep sadness involved with suicide, especially when it’s someone close to you that you love, and regret knowing you could have somehow prevented it,” said Ray.
The Facebook video for “Somebody’s Cryin'” already has 38,000 views. Its profound lyrics will hopefully make a positive connection with anyone battling through mental illness or any other challenges faced within the vast array of depression.
Ray’s youthful, tenor voice and masterful guitar chops really carry Our Little Town. He’s a real pro. It’s easy to tell that the West Virginia native has been performing since before you could mumble Chipotle. Although I must say the album is very well produced as well.
Although Ray’s main message with the album is suicide awareness, he does a good job sticking with an uplifting tempo with Our Little Town. It’s hopeful. It’s optimistic. It’s clean and honest.
My only criticism is that Ray’s music only packs a punch for a very specific demo. It’s very safe. But the reason I’m writing about it and the reason you clicked and are still reading this article is because Ray has an incredibly strong and important message to share. And it’s about something that has affected nearly all of us at some point in our lives.
It doesn’t matter if you’re Jeff Ray, Sugar Ray or Lana Del Rey, such a mightily, sincere message can be transcendent if it reaches the right ears. I truly hope it does.
Josh Helmuth is an editor for Crave and a longtime music lover whose first record was Eric Clapton. However, his first concert? That choice he will take to the grave.
Listen to Our Little Town by Jeff Ray here.