“It seems you guys have multiplied,” Cody Jinks said a few songs into his performance Saturday night at a packed Fox Theatre.
He was thinking back to the first time he played St. Louis, drawing maybe 50 people at Off Broadway.
Jinks’ commercial fortunes have changed for the better — considerably so — but some things remain the same for the fiercely independent Fort Worth, Texas-based singer-songwriter, who calls his own shots and owns his own label.
Last month, Jinks made the unconventional move of releasing two new albums — “After the Fire” and “The Wanting” — just a week apart. “We figured we were gonna have to put one out anyway so why not put out two?” he said at the Fox.
It’s the kind of thing that likely wouldn’t have been allowed if he were part of the Nashville machinery. But throughout the nearly 4-hour show, Jinks and his cohort, which includes opening acts Ward Davis and Josh Morningstar, made it perfectly clear that they’re not. Even the T-shirt that Jinks wore — “Death Before Pop Country” it read on the back — spoke to that fact.
Backed by a five-piece band, Jinks played nine songs from the new albums including the set-opening “Same Kind of Crazy as Me,” “Tell ‘Em What It’s Like” and “Think Like You Think.”
He told the story behind the new song “One Good Decision,” saying it was about escaping a potentially compromising situation during a band associate’s Las Vegas bachelor party.
Despite Jinks’ defiant anti-Nashville stance, there’s nothing really unconventional about his music other than that it avoids all manner of pop-country clichés in terms of lyrics and production, hewing instead to the models of Southern rock and outlaw country. His rich, deep voice, meanwhile, goes down as smoothly as the whiskey that’s mentioned in a number of his songs.
Jinks’ show was utterly without frills or special effects. The songs, nearly two dozen of them, had to stand on their own. That seemed enough for the Fox crowd, which remained on its feet and sang along throughout, even on some of the new songs, which have only been out for a month.
Davis joined Jinks for “I’m Not the Devil,” while Morningstar returned to the stage for “Must Be the Whiskey.” Jinks mentioned that the pair, who wrote those respective songs, were also responsible for writing or co-writing many of the songs on his new albums.
He wrapped up the set with “Hippies and Cowboys,” which once again underlined his outsider status. For the encore, he brought out friends and crew members to sing along on “The Raven and the Dove,” then closed with “Loud and Heavy.”
Davis, who was celebrating his 40th birthday, spent part of his set talking about his rebirth as a songwriter after struggling in Nashville; then he sang about it in “15 Years in a 10 Year Town.” He also performed “Unfair Weather Friend,” which turned things around for him when it was recorded by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. Davis brought out Jinks to sing “Colorado,” which the pair had written together. “He said that was his birthday present,” Jinks said.
Morningstar opened the show with a brief set that included “The Plea,” which appears on Jinks’ “The Wanting” album. He also sang “Damn These Birds” and “Jerry Lee” and offered a positive spin on some of the mistakes he’d made in the past. “Poor choices and bad decisions help you when you’re in my line of work,” he said.
“Same Kind of Crazy as Me”
“Big Last Name”
“Tell ‘Em What It’s Like”
“I’m Not the Devil”
“Somewhere in the Middle”
“What Else Is New”
“One Good Decision”
“Which One I Feed”
“Ain’t a Train”
“Think Like You Think”
“Cast No Stones”
“Must Be the Whiskey”
“Hippies and Cowboys”
“The Raven and the Dove”
“Loud and Heavy”