Melbourne’s country and honky tonk outfit, James Ellis and the Jealous Guys, team up with Nashville-based producers, Micah Hulscher and Alex Munoz, to release a track which combines classic country songwriting with a style reminiscent of son Cubano.
James originally wrote the song in the style of Merle Haggard’s “Swinging Doors”, fully intending that the tune would be recorded with a traditional 60s honky tonk feel. But when Hulscher and Munoz went into the studio with the band in Melbourne in 2019, the producers had a novel idea.
“They asked whether I knew anyone who played the tres. I had to ask them to repeat what they’d said because I’d never heard of the instrument before.” Through friends, James tracked down Nikos Kapralos, a Melbourne-based musician who plays the stringed Cuban instrument.
The tres can be heard distinctly in the second half of the solo, following Hulscher’s roomy piano in the first half. Combined with Luke Brennan’s drumming (evocative of Jim Keltner), the track suggests Ry Cooder’s influence, combining two distinct musical styles.
Lyrically, many of country music’s common themes are present: loneliness, sorrow and a crying heart.
“My girlfriend at the time had just left Australia to live in Mexico and neither of us knew when she’d be back. I still don’t know. I think she’s in Texas now.”
“A Thousand Tears” is the second single from the upcoming album, “Country Lion”, out on 16 October. It follows the release of the first single, “Sixteen Hours”, which came out on 21 August.
Country Lion is the follow-up to their first album, “It Ain’t Texas (But It Ain’t Bad), which won Best Country Album at The Age Music Victoria Awards in 2018.