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Young Man

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Album Review

According to his liner notes, Jack Ingram's Young Man is a compilation of recordings of some of his earliest written and performed songs. Admittedly, there is little sophistication in them, but there are also few of the clichés and snide witticisms that have saturated — and even hampered — his most recent work now that he is a bona fide star of the lost-in-its-own-identity Americana genre. What these songs contain is a magic not often found on records: there is a feeling of reverence in these tunes, and of gratitude for being able to do this at all — not only to write and sing songs, but to be able to document them with a band and backing vocals in a real studio. That naïveté makes up for any small clumsiness in phrase or execution. In fact, those "mistakes" on this set are not only charming, they are captivating. Evidence of this is on the very first cut, "Beat Up Ford." For all of the familiarity in its title, in the grain of Ingram's voice one can actually hear the iconographic images it evokes in the songwriter. Ingram is laying out an archetypal truth of traveling like there is actually some destination to get to, when the inside of his pickup on the back roads is really all there is. Recalling a mentor and the new sense of possibility that was provided by him, he is transformed into a man of soul and imagination still inside the cab of the truck.

"Sight Unseen" is a slightly sophomoric tome about faith in everyday life and seeking the truth beyond the pale. While it sounds pretentious, it is anything but. A pastoral piano line graces its melody and Ingram delivers his lyric with understatement and grace. In the hands of some Nash Vegas superstar not only would this be a hit, it would make an awesome video. "A Song for Amy," despite its bulky synth lines, is one of the more simple, beautiful, and evocative country love songs to come down the pipe in quite a while. "Drive On" is supposedly an evocation of the quiet power and emotion in Larry McMurtry's Last Picture Show; while it doesn't touch the novel, it really isn't supposed to. In its way, it offers a stark and haunting portrait of characters caught in the throes of life's unfolding circumstance. The honky tonk swing in "Lonesome Question" features amazing uncredited pedal steel and fiddle parts. Not all of these songs work, of course; "Still Got Scars" is too heavy-handed, as is "Younger Days," where lines and images feel forced to fit the theme of the tune. But "Tuesday Night," with its folksy country rhythm and dovetailed electric guitar, underscores Ingram's tight lyric. "Workin'," written after a period of listening to masters Kristofferson and Haggard, is just plain bad. The guttersnipe live rock & roll of "Travis County" evokes both the electric toughness of Steve Earle at his snottiest and John Prine's sense of humor and rhyme. In all this is a tender gem in the rough, of interest not only to Ingram's fans but to those who like to hear music close to the bone of the source of inspiration — even when that source and the skill aren't quite in sync yet.

Customer Reviews

"HIS" early stuff

Jack's early stuff is his best. I repsect an artist that can write (about his own experiences), sing, and play an instrument. His recent stuff is horrifying to his original fans. Glad he has found mainstream success but it has cost him dearly in the authenticity department. I'll keep listening to the oldies and hope that he finds his way back to his roots.


this is the man

Jack Ingram's BEST

Before anyone knew who Jack Ingram was, I was able to aquire two CDs which he made when he was in college. No record deal back then... just him and some buddies making music and trying to get his name out. "Beat Up Ford" and "Lonesome Question" were the titles of these two albums, and I believe these collections were Jack's best songs. Not "over" produced, these raw efforts expressed hunger, soul and a feeling that seems a bit faint in Jack's "Record Label" music of today. It's kinda cool to have been a fan of Jack Ingram before anyone knew who he was... especially since California (where I live) is a helluva long ways from Texas, so I'm proud of Jack's current success. But these songs, in my opinion, are his best efforts.


Born: 1970 in Houston, TX

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Texas-based modern-day honky tonker Jack Ingram first carved out a niche for himself in the bars and roadhouses between Dallas and Houston. By the mid-'90s, after extensive touring with his Beat Up Ford Band, he had released two well-received independent albums and had opened for artists like Merle Haggard and Mark Chesnutt. The end of 1996 brought about a deal with Warner, which reissued his first two indie albums, and in 1997 issued his major-label debut, Livin' or Dyin'. Moving to Sony's Lucky...
Full Bio
Young Man, Jack Ingram
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Country, Music, Contemporary Country, Urban Cowboy
  • Released: Feb 25, 2004

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