One of the songs that’s truly generated a response among country fans in 2010 is “Pray For You” by Jaron And The Long Road To Love, which sounds like a band but really is just a solo artist: Jaron Lowenstein.
Part of Jaron’s history is membership in a duo, Evan & Jaron, that made waves in pop about 10 years ago. So “Pray For You” makes him just the latest in a line of artists who’ve made the shift from pop and rock into country. He’s happy to be in the new genre, but if you’re upset with him because you think traditional country is getting short shrift these days, well, Jaron maintains he’s not at fault.
“I think people are still confused by what’s happening,” he told Entertainment Weekly, “but the reality is that if you ask Kid Rock or Darius Rucker — you ask any of these guys — they’ll tell you the same thing: country went pop, we didn’t go country. I don’t think Jewel wakes up in the morning and just goes, ‘I want to make a country record.’ We set out to make music and find an audience, we just need an audience that appreciates us and connects with us.”
For Jaron, that’s certainly happened in country. “Pray For You” made the Top 15, which is higher than Evan & Jaron ever got on the pop charts. And his album Getting Dressed In The Dark debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard country albums chart. His appearance in country is less about invading a new genre than being forced out of another one.
Pop music has gone beat-crazy — the genre is dominated by acts such as Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga and Ke$ha that lean heavily on hiphop and dance. So artists that make melody and real-life lyrics the central focus of their work are shut out of pop. Fans who want what singer-songwriters have to offer have drifted to country, and those new fans are naturally more open to the acts that got shut out of pop. Welcome, Jaron…
“The long-rooted country tradition is lyrics, storytelling,” he said. “So lyrically, that puts me in country music. What does my album sound more like — Keith Urban, Taylor Swift or Lady Antebellum, or Jay-Z or whoever? I think there was a redistricting, a rezoning of genres, and country said ‘Hey, we’ll take all those listeners.’ Country just expanded. They still have traditional, but they have new country, too.”
At least two guys with strong traditional roots are happy to have Jaron among them. He’s on the same bill with Toby Keith and Trace Adkins Friday night when the American Ride Tour hits the Gibson Amphitheater in Los Angeles.