Every so often an artist comes along that just hits you and makes a lasting impression. In 2016 that happened to me when I heard “Sad Songs” by Cody Riley and recently I had a great opportunity to have a nice phone conversation with this talented singer/songwriter. We talked all about his start in music and had some great discussions on the present state of country music.
Cody’s self titled album was produced by Jay Saldana and a Texas Country superstar, Wade Bowen, who Cody has looked up to for many years. And it’s easy to see why. Bowen has consistently put out quality material and never took the easy way to success. He, like many others such as Randy Rogers, Cody Jinks and Aaron Watson, have paved their own way through their musical career. This is something that Cody and I talked a good deal about.
I admire the artists that follow their heart and focus on the music they want to make. There are mentors out there that help shape each of us and we naturally look up to them. At the end of the day a good role model inspires us to better ourselves but still stay true to our own goals. When I heard Cody Riley’s self titled 2016 release, I was floored. So much so, that I have listened to it on a regular basis for months and continue to share it with others.
It’s a true country album that is well executed and full of songs that possess substance and passion. This album has been one of my favorites in a very long time. The opening song, “Roots” was written about Cody’s grandfather as he explained to me in our phone call. The classic country beat and instrumentation make this an incredible song that could go on to be a career defining song if put into the right hands. It’s a song about staying true to yourself and resisting the change no matter the trends. In our conversation, we talked about how so many of the radio stars today have unfortunately changed with the pressures of record labels and money. As we both agreed, when someone has struggled as a songwriter for years - often a decade or more, the money sounds good. He wrote some of the songs on this album in Nashville and mentioned how much incredible REAL country talent lives on the streets of that historic city. It’s startling to hear, but as I have found lately, James Dupre, Tommy Ash, and most recently Tara Thompson are artists I have showcased. Real talent in Nashville does exist and that’s why I’ll be talking about it. Bridging the gap is one of my biggest aims with Pitstop for Country.
My appreciation with Cody Riley is his respect of the real country artists. We are both about the same age and we talked about some of our favorites: Alan Jackson, George Straight, Cody Johnson, Aaron Watson, Wade Bowen, and many others. The level of awareness Riley possess with the music industry is important because he has avoided the pitfalls many artists make in their desire to grow. Here we have a fairly unknown talent that just put out an incredible album. He hasn’t sold out or complained. Rather he goes out for three month stints welding and working the Texas pipelines to provide for his family. Then he spends another three months doing radio tours and performing. Rinse and repeat. As I have learned, despite the talent that many artists in Texas and around the country are gifted with, most gigs aren’t going to make you rich. It takes years, perseverance, and some luck to finally get your chance. In the mean time, one must do what they can to push on and earn a living while still finding the time to practice and perform their craft.
Cody spoke about how there is a severe lack of memorable songs on mainstream radio today, something many of us have been aware of for a long time. Obviously this is why I primarily listen to Texas, Red-dirt and Americana. Give a listen to songs like “Real Fine Line”, “Wasting My Time,” and “I’m Your Man” and you’ll instantly understand the depth and passion Cody sings with. His motives with each song are about creating a lasting impression on the listener - not just making some rowdy country anthem. I do have to say, “If You Want To” is one hell of a song he wrote about a bar incident he watched unfold. You know how it goes, guys and girls in a bar, someone oversteps the boundary with the other’s girl. You know what happens next. It’s a song he delivers with such precision and the perfect arrangement. So much in fact I see it being a song Eric Church would cut.
I am pulling for Cody Riley and think this self titled album is just incredible. Please do yourself a favor and check him out, it’s truly an excellent piece. What I’ve learned is Cody can not only strike an arc out in the oil fields in Texas, but also strikes all the right chords with his listeners of his music. Thanks again Cody for the great conversation, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you.
Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
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