It’s fitting that when Jaryd Lane played the Bayou Country Super Fest, it was only in the parking lot. Lane doesn’t fit into the pre-cut slot of a country megastar. Sure, he’s got the look, the voice, a great sound. But Lane has something they don’t: deep, rich lived-in songs that he actually wrote. True, they have the millions — of fans, of dollars, of records sold — and he doesn’t … yet.
But that’s alright with Lane, who released 78, his fifth full-length album, on Dec. 17. “I really have no desire to be a famous superstar.
I sort of like being the underground underdog,” says Lane.
His aversion to fame wasn’t always the case. In fact, Lane — actually Kaplan native Jaryd Lane Hargrave — was so anxious to head to Nashville he switched to general studies to graduate faster. It worked. Almost.
In 2008, Lane cut four songs with Tracy Lawrence’s Rocky Comfort Records. But his backers parted with the label before anything materialized.
“Through the process, I got to write with a lot of great writers and meet some wonderful folks,” says Lane. “Just being able to be around Tracy and [his] musical peers was like Music 101. Just to see how national artists run things was a great experience.”
For a local, he’s doing well. A full-time musician, Lane is constantly gigging and will appear on the Travel Channel’s coverage of Colfax’s Trucks Gone Wild. The spring also sees him making his first Jazz Fest appearance. In 2011, Service Chevrolet featured him and his “Silverado” in a commercial. Two of his CDs, Country Boy Sessions and Riding for the Brand, were top local sellers at Barnes & Noble. “I think the biggest achievement is just being able to do it. To provide for my family and actually make a living at this is a great feeling.”
Lane labels himself a country Bob Seger, and it goes further than his link with Chevy (Seger’s “Like a Rock” is a Chevy advertising icon). In the homage heavy “Seger Song,” Seger’s greatest hits provide allusions for Lane’s love story. Lane croons, “We’ll make the night moves/I will be your beautiful loser if you want me to/That fire will be burning down below/Baby we can do no wrong, living a Seger song.”
Even in songs without his name, Seger’s influence is clear: This is earnest country amped up with a classic rock edge. Lane is down home, yet raw and real minus the twang, having instead soulful, smooth backing vocals. Lane pours out his heart and the hearts of the cowboy heroes who inspire him. And Lane tells these stories well with his rugged and room-filling voice. His songs have a lived-in ’till worn out feel, without the flash, pop polish and ridiculousness of today’s country. In other words, there are no songs about pontoon boats, no Auto-Tune and no guest appearances by rappers. “I wasn’t worried about getting a deal or what’s the fad at the time,” says Lane. “Just making music.”
Though they will haunt you, Lane’s songs don’t rely on infectious catchy jingle-like hooks and choruses. Instead they are crammed with authenticity. At the same time, he perfectly captures the restless tramp’s desire to ramble and the homesick family man hitting the road to provide a better life. In the world of watery Michelob Ultra country pop, 78 is aged whiskey. “I think the songs these days come from a lot of personal experiences,” Lane says. “You can’t fake it if you’re gonna make it. You gotta live it!”
Lane gives his most personal performance on the title track. He reflects on a life gone by: an adult young enough to remember the good times but old enough to be saddled with responsibilities and hard times of someone who “calloused these hands in the dusty fields of granddad’s land.” You can’t wear boots, a Stetson and cut a record (Seger influence or not) without dirt roads, hard times, good times, love and heartbreak, and Lane meets this requirement handily. In “Living Proof,” he sings, “The harder the life, the sweeter the song.”
Though he shakes off a quest for stardom, it’s not hard to peg Lane as a viable contender to stand behind an award show podium. Still, he’s happy where he is even if labels don’t quite get him.
“I think the biggest struggle over the years is for people/industry to get what we do,” he says. “We aren’t you’re straight up country or your pop country, so we’ve always sort of been the outcasts.”
For now, Lane is Acadiana’s premier cowboy troubadour, scuffing the stages of local venues instead of the red carpet, award shows or sold out headliner spots of his own. For now, he doesn’t have a record burning up the charts and resetting the tone of country music.
For now, he’s playing parking lots and mud truck events. For now.
Jaryd Lane opens for Aaron Lewis on Jan. 30 at The District. Tickets are on sale now at thedistrictlafayette.com.