Jacob Bryant is one of those artists whose voice instantly pulls you in the moment you hear it. He strikes an emotional chord with every lyric, and each vocal stretch is always incredibly powerful—especially throughout Bryan’s new album, released on February 8. Appropriately titled Practice What I Preach, these 12 tracks are the most accurate representation of who Jacob Bryant is, both as an artist and a person.
The 27 year-old chose Collective Soul lead guitarist Jesse Triplett, along with his manager Jeff Catton, to produce the new project, and the dynamic trio have crafted an album driven by wicked guitar riffs, booming percussion, and Bryant’s explosive vocals.
“He knows what he wants and was by my side the whole time while recording,” Triplett said of Bryant via email. “And in my head, he certainly gets some of the producer credit for this album.”
Bryant has consistently described his sound as country, done his way: “I’ve always just tried to stay true to myself, and let my influences show through, from bluegrass to blues, southern rock, and of course, traditional country as well,” the singer said over the phone. “I think there’s a song on this album for anybody and everybody.”
Clearly inspired by the some of the best of both country and its neighboring genres, his full-length release balances the traditionalism he was raised on with the southern rock he thrives on, and still manages to let his softer side shine through. The music may lean heavily on guitars, but lyrically, his songs are filled with more honesty than a bachelorette party a few drinks in. Bryant, a modern day Man in Black, if you will, never shies away from what’s real, no matter how ugly or uncomfortable the truth may be.
“It’s easy writing songs with Jacob because all you gotta do is tell the truth,” said cowriter Jami Grooms via email. The “Pour Whiskey on My Grave” songwriter goes on to describe to Bryant as “loud and redneck proud… Kind and gentle, full of faith and mercy… I have worked with many artists in this business, and Jacob…well, he’s something special.”
Triplett echoes these sentiments: “He’s a true artist in a day and age where many things can be fabricated. What you see and hear is what you get.”
What we get on Practice What I Preach is the kind of songwriting that country music was built on. No stereotypical clichés—only stories of life, love and loss that are made even more captivating by Bryant’s deep, Georgia accent and vocal strength. “He makes things very easy and very difficult at the same time,” Triplett says of Bryant’s vocals—easy, because his vocals are on point and give Triplett room to push beyond his comfort zone, and hard because he makes even sub-par songs sound good. “You have to really have your ears open when choosing songs,” Triplett says.
When it comes to the song selection on Practice What I Preach, not a single track is skip-worthy. Between the four songs he co-wrote himself and the eight written by his equally gifted songwriter pals, Bryant’s personal connection to each track is felt through the passion in his vocals.
“It says a lot when a singer-songwriter can pick a song without his own name attached to the writing credits,” says Wyatt McCubbin, one of the songwriters featured on the project, via email. “To me, that is just as hard as writing.”
Bryant explains his selection process: “I try to write what I feel at that time, and if a song comes along that I didn’t particularly write, but it’s something that I can relate with at that time, that’s kind of how I choose them.”
Though Practice What I Preach stays true to the country rock formula that the Georgia native has so obviously perfected, no two songs on the album are the same. For example, despite the outlaw-rock aesthetic of both “More Than One Year” and “25 in Jail,” the former boasts a bluesy sound while the latter takes on a twangy, honky-tonk rhythm. Meanwhile, “Wrong Way Home” and “One More Night with You” are coated in a Jason Aldean-style flavor that definitely tastes like potential radio success.
And of course, we also find Bryant tackling more difficult subject matter on songs like “Hot Mess” and “Bring You Back.” Written by Bridgett Tatum and Kimberly Kelly, the raw reality of “Hot Mess” resonated with Bryant, as it reminded him of his own mother and her struggle to provide for him and his siblings.
“I felt like it was a good time for someone to say thank you to all those mothers out there that are less fortunate, but they give their all to their kids and family, and somehow make it happen,” he says.
Penned by McCubbin and Carson Chamberlain, “Bring You Back” paints a devastating picture of what it looks like when we lose a loved one, as our narrator is haunted by their final memories together. On “Sometimes I Pray,” co-written with Josh Phillips and previously featured on his 2017 Unplugged Vol. 2 EP, Bryant details his difficulty in coping with the passing of his mother: “Because that song was written about my mom, I just felt like I had to give it some more life and see where it goes and completely redo it.” The song also includes the first guitar solo Bryant has ever written.
Between the intoxicating vocal work, stellar production, and impeccable songwriting, there is nothing about the album that isn’t praiseworthy. As “More Than One Year” songwriter Eric Lee Beddingfield says via email, “In an unfortunate time in the music business where most singers are as watered down and generic as Campbell’s soup, Jacob Bryant offers country music fans a much needed taste of home cooking.”
It’s clear it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the country music community picks up on everything Bryan has to offer. Is he ready for what’s to come? “It’s all moving so fast right now that I don’t even have time to think about it a whole lot,” Bryant says, his smile practically audible through the phone. “I just gotta hold on and do what I do.”