When it comes down to it, Jordan Rager is all about crafting the perfect song. We sat down with Jordan to hear about what he’s been up to since “Southern Boy” with Jason Aldean in 2016, his road to discovering his true voice as an artist, and what exciting projects lie ahead for this year.
Rager is a true small-town boy from Logansville, Georgia, a town stretching barely over 7 square miles. “We’re all related somehow,” he laughs. He grew up playing at any venue that would let a kid perform, with his mom chauffeuring him to gig after gig. He moved to Nashville at age 19 and quickly checked off all of the usual benchmarks of success, including signing record and publishing deals. But something wasn’t quite clicking. After an amicable split with Broken Bow Records in March 2017, Rager began the process of figuring himself out, both as an artist and as a person.
“I needed to figure out what I wanted to say with my music, and what I wanted people to get out of it,” says Rager. “I have a much better grasp on that now, and I spent most of 2018 writing those songs.”
So, what’s the result? His upcoming album, set to release this year: “Sonically, it’s going to be different than what people have heard before,” he says. His opportunity to tap into influences from genres across the board is a major cause of the change in his sound. Country is still the main theme, but listeners can expect to hear flavors of pop, punk and old rock. And a lot of impactful, honest songwriting.
It’s evident just by being around Jordan Rager that the songwriting part of his brain is always in gear. His passion for songwriting simply flows from his being. “I truly fell in love with music when I started writing songs,” he says. He’s constantly turning over phrases in his mind, focusing on the details, and picking up on everything around him as inspiration for another song.
“My favorite songwriters and artists, in country music and otherwise, have always been the ones you feel like you’re getting to know better as you’re listening to their songs. That’s the kind of artist and writer I aspire to be,” says Rager.
Given that Nashville is a songwriting town, there are plenty of opinions floating around about whether artists should always write their own songs. Growing up with a mix of George Strait, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, and other artists known for co-writing or, in some cases, not writing at all, Rager has a leveled approach to the topic:
“Those guys knew a good song when they heard it, and you believe that they believe in what they’re singing. I feel like I would be doing myself a disservice by strictly writing everything myself.” In the end, he says, “the best song wins.” The most rewarding thing for Rager is finding out that someone else can hear a song he wrote and place their own story into it. After all, that’s what he grew up doing while listening to country radio.
Rager feels that his new album will be a collection that genuinely tells his story and shows his true voice. It’s been a winding journey to get to this point, but he wouldn’t change a thing about the process: “It’s the music I’ve always wanted to create. I think [this album] is the perfect introduction.”
1. First Concert: Trace Adkins and Toby Keith. I sat on the lawn and my back was practically against the back wall. It was me with three of my buddies and it just started pouring down rain. My friends wanted to go home, but I said, “This is my first concert! We are not leaving!”
2. Dream Collaborations: Alan Jackson, Ed Sheeran
3. Favorite Nashville Bar: Red Door Saloon
4. Favorite City to Visit: San Francisco
5. Artistic Identity in Three Words: Honesty, Passion, Pride