Why Jelly Roll’s ‘Son of a Sinner’ Is Rolling at Country Radio

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A tidy description of Jelly Roll’s debut single “Son of a Sinner” is Shinedown meets Morgan Wallen. There’s an undeniable rock edge to his vocals, but that’s no consequence to the barroom story he’s telling. If he were alive, George Jones would approve of this kind of sadness.

Jelly Roll — real name Jason DeFord — is next up in a growing field of Nashville natives birdshotting country radio with something original. Ernest (who co-wrote “Son of a Sinner”) comes to mind. Then there’s Mitchell Tenpenny, who’s also friends with the group. All three have original voices and an appreciation for not just classic artists, but classic sounds.

Seriously, can we talk about the number of waltzes coming off the pens of Ernest, Wallen, etc …?

The trend is remarkable, because it seems to cap a decade of artists pouring from the Georgia pipeline. For a decade, R&B was the favored mixer, but now beefy, early ’00s rock bands are getting some love. Maybe Florida Georgia Line is the root of it. It was, after all, their producer, Joey Moi, who figured out how to apply Nickelback sensibilities to the country music format.

The success of “Son of a Sinner” (Top 30 after just 11 weeks) isn’t because he sounds like anyone else vocally or sonically. Some of these doors were left cracked for him to push through, and he’s done that with an absolute heartbreaker that leaves you rooting for this guy who’s trying so hard to do better in life. Then, he backs it up with candid (so, so candid) interviews and more enthusiasm than a bachelorette party on Lower Broadway. There’s not going to be an easier smash from a previously-unknown artist in 2022.

Did You Know?

: In May 2022, Jelly Roll also scored the No. 1 song on rock radio with “Dead Man Walking.”

Jelly Roll’s “Son of a Sinner” Lyrics:

I never get lonely / I get these ghosts to keep me company / I took the rearview off of this old Ford / So I only see in front of me / Now the past is out of sight and out of mind / Swore I changed, now I’m back chasing these white lines.

Chorus:

I’m just a long-haired son of a sinner / Searching for new ways I can get gone / I’m a pedal to the highway / If you ever wonder why we / Write these songs / ‘Cause I’m only one drink away from the devil / I’m only one call away from home / Yeah, I’m somewhere in the middle / I guess I’m just a little / Right and wrong.

These backroads got me / These pills pretend to be my friend / I’m done for the last time / I’m lying to myself again / I always say that / Now I’m on my way back here somehow / I should know by now.

Repeat Chorus

Mistakes I made, I paid for them in cash / Walked a million miles on broken glass / I’m feeling like I’m fading / My heart’s been slowly breaking / Might pop a pill and smoke and maybe drink / Talk to God and tell Him what I think / At first He’s gonna hate me / But eventually He’ll save me.

Repeat Chorus

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