The title track of Trace Adkins’ forthcoming 2017 Jesus and Jones, his 12th full-length record, takes inspiration from the conflict that keeps him on or off the wagon.
“I need to find a little middle ground/ Between let her rip and settling down,” Adkins croons in his signature baritone. “But I go from dry to drowned, lost to found/ Stone-cold sober to just plain stoned.”
The accompanying southern-rock guitar riff and upbeat rhythm help drive the Grammy nominee’s already forceful voice deeper inside your eardrums. “Jesus and Jones” is also an homage to one of country music’s most legendary voices, George Jones, a huge influence who happened to be a notoriously hard drinker as well.
“Trying to live like my heroes did is the hardest kind of livin’ there is,” Adkins admits in the song.
The repercussions have made livin’ difficult for the Country Music Award winner, who checked into rehab in 2014, following a DUI and a fight with a Adkins impersonator aboard a cruise ship. Adkins had been 12 years sober.
Off the sauce, the Grand Ole Opry member is one of country music’s most productive and radio-friendly entities. He’s churned out more than 20 singles that have reached the Billboard country music charts, including the heartfelt ballad “You’re Gonna Miss This,” the ethereal blend of pedal steel, acoustic guitar and deep vocals of “All I Ask For Anymore” and the country-pop, tongue-in-cheek duet with Blake Shelton “Hillbilly Bone.”
Now, Adkins is working through another challenge. A video emerged of a benefit performance last month in which the former oil rig worker-turned-country-music star slurs his way through a few songs before he abruptly leaves the stage. The footage went global after TMZ got to it, but it may be a blessing for the 54-year-old musician. The response on social media has been overwhelmingly supportive. One fan on Taste of Country’s Facebook page writes, “Get back on the right path. We’re all praying for you.”
“I was at the concert that night,” another supporter posts. “Hurts my heart when people are so quick to judge.”
Adkins hasn’t spoken about the incident yet, though he has since donated his entire performance fee to St. Jude (as a father of five daughters, he’s a longtime supporter of the children’s hospital).
He leads a strong Sunset 2016-17 lineup that includes The B-52s, Blind Boys of Alabama and celeb chef Jacques Pépin.
TRACE ADKINS 8pm Saturday, Aug. 15. Sunset Center, San Carlos at Ninth, Carmel. $79; $99. www.sunsetcenter.org