JT Hodges isnt inclined to offer only a slice of his personality when you meet him. Hes a full on, "this is who I am" kind of guy. Likewise his debut CD from Show Dog-Universal Music does not hesitate to showcase all of the various bits that make up the whole: a songwriter/musician and singer from Fort Worth, Texas. In case you havent heard, Texans arent necessarily shy, and tend to not hold back. And thats just what one finds with his self-titled debut 10 songs that offer up delicious little slices of all that make up the whole. "Goodbyes Made You Mine" gives a hint of the romantic, "Green Eyes and Red Sunglasses" the adventurer and the vulnerable everyday guy makes an appearance in "When I Stop Cryin." Its all delivered with a finely crafted mix of classic country with a contemporary edge.
The industry is already catching on to JT's brand of music. Toby Keith selected him as an opening act on one of his recent Locked and Loaded tours. JT was also a semi-finalist for Best New Artist at the 2012 Academy of Country Music Awards. Plus, the renowned Vince Gill makes an appearance on JT's album, an impressive feat for a debut effort.
JT wrote eight of the 10 songs on the album, which gives you an idea of his versatility. He generally prefers to draw his themes from the well of experience. "You try to grow from all the situations you have been through in the past," JT says. "Its really just my own interpretations of those universal themes, emotions that make a song. I want to ignite that feeling inside myself or someone else. Thats when a song is at its best in my opinion."
Several of the songs were inspired by relationships, as in "Right About Now" and "Out of My Mind." Others came from outside observations of people and their own lives in songs like "Sleepy Little Town," and from good-time feelings inspired by a city, back road or even a season like "Green Eyes and Red Sunglasses" and "Rhythm of the Radio" or his summertime-infused debut single, "Hunt You Down."
Things take a much more sober turn on "When I Stop Cryin," the ballad featuring Vince Gill as its VIP guest. Given the romantic themes that dominate the rest of the album, this could easily be taken as a lost-love song, but JT says, "it could be the loss or death of someone or it could be a breakup. Whatever it is, you know that you will move on from it, but right now youre in the moment of goodbye and you have to experience the pain before you can move on. To augment the melancholia, JT enlisted somebody who knows from sad songs. "I wanted to see if Vince would sing backgrounds on it. I never thought he would, much less play the solo. I remember watching the whole thing go down in the studio, and after about his second take on the guitar solo, he looked up at me and said, Hey, JT, what do you think? In the back of my mind Im thinking, Country Music Hall of Famer asking no-name artist what he thinks. If I never do anything else, Ill always have that moment."
Music has been in his blood ever since he can remember and he certainly seems destined to pursue this musical path, as he was almost literally raised in a recording studio. "My family started Fort Worths first multi-track recording studio," he explains, referring to Buffalo Sound Studios, a facility that played host to artists as disparate as T Bone Burnett and Michael Bolton. Were the kids allowed to hang around? "Oh, it was part of the chores!" he laughs. "On weekends when there were sessions, Pops would make us vacuum up and clean the bathrooms. Once we were done, my brother and me would be so excited to go into my dads audio library and listen to record after record. That was the environment that I grew up in, from crawling around under the console at 8 months old to the day my dad finally had to sell the studio."