I remember the series ‘24’ with fondness. It was a hit in my family, and we’d always watch with a great amount of humor thrown in by my witty husband. My husband could always tell when Sutherland as Jack Bauer was about to eliminate a foe permanently. When it was time to watch, my husband would go, “So who’s Jack gonna shoot tonight?”
Sutherland has evolved, though. Now he has a band and he does lead vocals on his self-penned songs, many of them biographical. Who knew?
I admit I take a dim view of stars who decide, after making millions, they’re going to become poet-singers. I wandered around the Web to experience a few of Sutherland’s songs. Frankly, I was surprised.
His voice isn’t classical. It’s weathered, craggy, and sort of ‘Johnny Cashy’ to coin a phrase. He’s not an instrumental whiz, but his very capable band makes up for that. Of all the songs I heard, I really liked “I’ll Do Anything”, a song released a couple years ago. He managed his vocals very well in that particular song, adapting his voice as close to melodic as he can get. Guitar World described Sutherland’s voice as “whiskey-soaked growl,” and I’d agree.
Overall, the songs I listened to put him on par with much of the music I hear today on radio and on the Web. Sutherland just released his new album Reckless and Me, and I’d agree with some critics’ assessment Sutherland’s strength is his storytelling. I’d also say another strength has to do with leading a band, an endeavor not for the faint of heart.
When it comes to country and Americana, is Sutherland a poser? I don’t think so. He apparently came into music organically, explaining his love of storytelling in an interview with Wide Open Country:
“When I started rodeoing and ranching through the ’90s, I was exposed to serious country music, which was at that time, for me, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson,” Sutherland says. “That whole group that almost walked away from Nashville in their own way and broke out on their own. It was the honesty of their music that really spoke to me,” Sutherland says. “It made me feel like I was talking to a friend who was making me feel a little bit better about some of the choices I wish I hadn’t made.”
It helps that Sutherland had already established himself as a star with resources to do what he wants to. His name alone is a calling card, but audiences won’t sit through something they don’t enjoy, and he’s pulling audiences in, so there’s the proof atop the pudding.
I’ve long enjoyed watching Sutherland act, and now I’ll keep an eye out for his music. Meanwhile, once my husband sees this article, I will surely continue to hear ‘24’ jokes pop up—my mate never took the show seriously. I’ll see what his response is to the evolution of Sutherland from fearless patriot to troubadour. It will be funny even if he likes Sutherland’s music, I can tell you that.
(Kay B. Day/May 1, 2019)
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