If you had to explain what country music was to someone who didn’t know, then the easiest thing to do would be to play them any one of the 13 songs off Jake Worthington’s self-titled debut album.
His sound is like a dictionary definition of country music. He's distilled down the last 60 years of whoopin’, hollerin’, honkin’ and tonkin’ into a double-cask matured mix of old school, 100 proof country with all the depth and complexity of contemporary neo-traditionalism. Bottled in bond and served straight up with ice.
Raised in La Porte, Texas, on a steady diet of classic country music, listening to everything from Ray Price to Merle Haggard and Georges Jones, his sound is like a fine dignified whisky: an irresistible and seamless blend of all those easy to distinguish influences melded together to make something entirely fresh. Richly flavoured and full-bodied AF.
Worthington’s grandfather is to credit for planting a seed that would eventually anchor his musical efforts. Rolling out an old vintage guitar on holidays to play twang-laden originals and covers on their South Texas porch, the first-hand education he passed down were symptoms of a familial, multi-generational passion for honky-tonk and dance hall ditties that can be heard and felt now, infused into every note the 27-year-old plays.
If it's dancing you’re looking to do, then look no further. His dance hall ready debut was dreamt up with your Luccheses in mind. Produced by Joey Moi and featuring a collaboration with labelmate ERNEST, the album adds a bold modern punch to a traditional country sound. Ranging from the Strait-laced ‘State You Left Me In’ to the jacked up George Jones twang of ‘Next New Thing’, Jake Worthington is an artist who balks at the idea of ever being “too country.”
“I believe in country music as much as I believe in my next breath," Worthington declares. “Blame it on my raising, but I think there ought to be room for country in country music.”
Inspired by those early influences, Worthington picked up his own Gibson acoustic and began honing his craft as a performer and a songwriter in his mid-teens, graduating as he grew and bringing pure country devotion to writing rooms alongside writers like Roger Springer, Monty Holmes, Nick Walsh, Robert Arthur, David Lee Murphy, Wyatt McCubbin, Jake Doucet, Jessi Alexander, and many more. His unmistakable truth-telling and barrel-aged baritone drawl carved him a lane all of his own; a young up-and-comer with a catalogue of time-travelling originals.
Worthington turned up with guest spots on Hixtape: Vol. 2 with Ronnie Dunn and Jake Owen on the rowdy ‘Jonesin’, on Ronnie Dunn’s 2022 album 100 Proof Neon and then again on ERNEST’s 2023 extension FLOWER SHOPS (THE ALBUM) Two Dozen Roses on ‘Heartache In My 100 Proof.’
He’s already started bringing his two-step anthems to venues across the country, opening for Cody Johnson, Riley Green, Pat Green, Hank Williams Jr. and ERNEST. Now he’s looking down the road at 2023 as he preps for another set of tour stops - both as a headliner and an opener for Randy Rogers Band, Jon Pardi, and Gary Allan – to bring his debut album to the masses.
“Like my grandpa always says, you'll know you have a hit song if the dance floor's full,” Worthington says. “A lot of people have told me it’s hard to sell our kind of music, but I don’t care. I've always taken the long way around.”
Holler had a quick catch up with Jake Worthington to find out a little bit more about one of country music’s most exciting rising stars.
Where are you from and how did that influence you?
La Porte, TX. The area heavily influenced me. I was raised by blue collar folks, and I still hold all those morals and values in high regard.
What did you grow up listening to?
How would you describe your sound?
Tell us about the new album?
It comes out April 7th and is my first true footprint in the industry. It is who I am and represents the kind of music I want to make.
How did you end up appearing on Hixtape Vol 2?
I’m label mates with HARDY and he was kind enough to let it happen. I’m a big fan of his.
Where’s the most unexpected place music has taken you?
Randy Couture’s house. He came out to a show, and we ended up hanging at his house for a while and drank Moscow Mules.
What inspires you?
Honesty. I like an underdog, a black horse. Anything with genuine authenticity.
What songs would you put on a mixtape if you had to make one for Holler listeners?
‘Got Lonely Too Early This Morning’ by Merle Haggard
‘I Should’ve Watched That First Step’ by George Strait
‘For the Good Times’ by Ray Price
‘I Never Go Around Mirrors’ by Lefty Frizzell
‘Hurts, Don’t It’ by Daryle Singletary
‘I Just Don’t Give a Damn’ by George Jones
What was it like being out on the road with ERNEST?
A lot of fun. It was great to play in some new rooms for new crowds. We are so thankful that ERNEST had us out.
What’s your all time favourite song?
‘I Never Go Around Mirrors’
If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing?
I would probably be working in the plants. I never let it get that far.
If you could time travel back to any time when would you travel back to?
1982. I would’ve loved to watch Jones in the 80s or Haggard at ACL.
Which person from history would you most like to meet?
My great grandpa. I never got to meet him. I’m named after him and would like to meet the person that I’m told I remind people of.
Do you have any hidden talents?
My right ear moves on its own. I discovered it singing, you can see that it moves whenever I sing.
What’s next for you?
Bearing down in it.
Jake Worthington’s self-titled debut will be released on April 7th