NORMAN — Album Name: Through The Fire (2013, Smith Entertainment)
Musician: Brandon Jenkins
Why you should listen: Brandon Jenkins may have moved to Austin over a decade ago but Oklahoma will always claim him. The Oklahoma State University graduate developed his early chops in Stillwater and Norman saloons starting nearly a generation ago.
First album titled “Tough Times Don’t Last” was released in 1994 and newest “Through the Fire” is number 11 for the resilient Americana troubadour. From the start Jenkins had songwriting skills in spades and his most recent 13 songs demonstrate his talent hasn’t faded. It also explains why he’s often tapped as a writing resource in collaborations with the likes of Stoney LaRue, Bleu Edmondson and Cross Canadian Ragweed. Penning songs from the heart is not easily faked and Jenkins’ tunes have the ring of truth whether it’s about lost love, lust by light of a cell phone or a factory leaving town.
“In Time” is about leaving sweet home Tulsa early in his career and recalls some of Leon Russell’s best, another of that storied town’s stellar artists. It’s slow, bittersweet and imbued with the wisdom that comes from living long and working hard. The album’s title track is a similar testament to believing in one’s own personal mission in life and what it means to be a man with a home, family and friends. Jenkins is a journeyman guitarist and plays a competent blues harp, but it’s his unmistakable voice that seals the deal. His pipes are Okie as Gotebo, Cookietown and Frogville all rolled into one and steeped in Lake Tenkiller. That’s why even though this disc came out of Yellow Dog Studios in Texas its essence was made in Oklahoma.