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Back in 2006, roots rock troubadour JARED YOUNG got his JOHN COUGAR MELLENCAMP on with his oh-so-sincere debut CD 'SO MANY MILES'. Brimming with over-wrought singer-songwriter sensitivity and earnestness, the Arkansas-born YOUNG's compositions had a way of tugging the heart strings a little too hard and much like the uber-male singer-songwriter JOHN MAYER. Now YOUNG is back with his sophomore release 'SEVERAL SHOTS AT REDEMPTION' and while the easy-going YOUNG is as amiable as he was the first time around, the new songs take on a decidedly more political edge. "This (album) was written towards the middle of BUSH's second term." says YOUNG "I am pretty unabashedly progressive with my politics, but the same time, I really feel like a patriot. I have a deep love for my country and a deep love for our constitution. A lot of the record was influenced by friends or family that were overseas serving in Iraq and stories that I had heard."
ROCKWIRED spoke with JARED YOUNG over the phone. Here is how it went.

What do you think is different this time around?
I really  wanted to write song that I wanted to write. I just decided not to be concerned  with whether or not a song sounded like a radio single or if it sounded as if people would like it. I had decided to write directly from the soul and see what happens. That was the main difference. Sometimes as a songwriter you have these preconceived notions about what a song should be and how a long it should be and where the guitar solo should be. This album was written on feel.

So you're saying that on the first album you were more self-conscious.
Yeah. Probably self-conscious about what I thought people would want to hear. That definitely impacts the way that you write a song. It impacts every choice you make and this time every choice was about, 'how do I want this to go?'. I feel like this is a real true album. It's true to who I am right now as a musician. It's a pretty clear picture and people will either get or they won't. If they don't then that's fine.

Yeah, and you're actually on the cover of this record. On the last cover, you had some model on the cover.
We were trying to go all 'artsy' the last time and everyone was like 'where are you?', so this time I was like 'forget it', I'm going to be right on the cover.

Who all did you work with this time around?
I worked with BRUCE LAWRENCE who is my longtime guitar players and co-writer and RICK SCOTT who is my long-time keyboard player and co-writer, who is actually in Arkansas. TOM BERTRAM was the bass player and we had a new drummer this time - another guy out of Arkansas named DANIEL LA RUE. It was the same band as the last album, only with a different drummer. We recorded half of the album in Arkansas and half of the album in California. I have so many ties to my home state of Arkansas. I'm really proud of where I'm from. Its nice to go back and have two or three writing sessions there. We'd recorded the drums the bass and the keyboards there and then bring out to L.A. and kind of put the polishing on to it.

in terms of songwriting, has the process changed much for you?
No. It really hasn't , I'm lucky enough in that I don't get writer's block. I definitely write in waves. There will be two or three months where I won't write a single new song. Then all of a sudden there will be rush of ideas over a two or three week period where I will get six, seven, or eight new ideas and of those, I will hone those ideas down to three or four that sort of deserve some extra work. So the process of songwriting hasn't changed too much. When a good idea comes around it's like the top of your head just comes off and and it's all right there and I feel like it's my job to decipher what the muse is saying.

Personally, I don't think that title could be more appropriate for my life and for who I am. I'm just lucky enough to still be doing what I do. I've been an independent artist ever since I left college and most people that have been doing it as long as I have are either disenchanted with the business or have decided to focus on something else or decide to go live in the real world. I really feel that personally, I've gotten several shots at redemption because I've been in this business for so long and I've been able to show several different sides of myself and every time It gets bigger and it gets better and the reception is greater. I love that I'm still in the game.

One difference that I had noticed was the political tone that the album has. Would you care to talk about that?
I'd be happy to. This was written towards the middle of BUSH's second term. I am pretty unabashedly progressive with my politics, but the same time, I really feel like a patriot. I have a deep love for my country and a deep love for our constitution. A lot of the record was influenced by friends or family that were overseas serving in Iraq and stories that I had heard. The song 'I STILL BURN' was written about a soldier who came back home scarred by the war. I was playing a show at the Santa Monica Pier. In Santa Monica there is a guy that puts out crosses for all of the soldiers that have died in Iraq. He also has a photo display and it's incredibly moving piece of art. On this display is a picture of a young cadet who as at this ball and he had his beautiful date with him and he's dressed sharply in his dress uniform. Then there was an article about the Hum V that he was in. There was explosion and he was trapped inside. He spent years at WALTER REED's burn center. In the next picture is that same soldier in his dress uniform. He was burned so badly that there is no way to recognize that it is the same person. In the photo, he is standing with the same girl as on the earlier picture. This time, she is in a wedding dress and she;s getting married to this guy. That song is about a guy who may be changed on the outside but that he's still the same guy on the inside. He still deeply in love with this girl. Here they are getting married and there is this strong bond between them too but the song also imagines how haunted he must be by what he has been through. The other song that really stands out politically is called 'MEANT TO BE'. It's a lament for the soldiers who are asked to do their duty and so many of them are not going to get the chance to be what they were meant to be in this life because they are men and women of their word. They gave their word to protect our country no matter what the situation. It's a stab at our political situation in the past. I kind of feel like we as Americans haven't seen our Constitution until about two or three months ago.  What interesting is that 'MEANT TO BE' was supposed to be the lead off song on the album, but then BARACK OBAMA got elected. I listened to the album in its original sequence and it just didn't feel right. So instead I changed it to a song that was more hopeful. It's a song about a girl at the end of a relationship but her new life is beginning. We still have the regrets and the problems of the past yet we still have this hope that is still sticking with everyone with this new administration. So BARACK OBAMA changed the whole order of my CD.

Change you can believe in.

There is a strong storyteller type aspect in your songs. Where do you think that comes from?
I grew up on JOHN COUGAR MELLENCAMP, BRYAN ADAMS and BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN so I feel like I'm carrying the torch for them. Those were the kinds of songs that they used to write and still write. I think there is kind of a lack of that in lot of today's commercial or indie music. A lot of the music these days is very introspective and its all focused on what is going with this particular songwriter. I'm just trying to pay homage to the guys that came before me. I learned to write songs by listening to those guys.

Any shows at the moment?
We're just getting started. We've done some acoustic shows around Hollywood that were very well received. There is an incredible new venue in Hermosa Beach called ST. ROCK and we've been playing there. We're going to be doing our album release party there on the ninth of April. It's just one of the best venues that I've ever played in Los Angeles. We got close to selling it out the last time and we're looking forward to doing so this time.

What would you like a person to come away with after they've heard 'SEVERAL SHOTS AT REDEMPTION'?
After they listen to this, I would really like for them to say 'Wow, that is an honest record!'. There is nothing that is put upon on this record. It's a very sincere record. I also hope it stirs their soul a little, puts a smile on their face and makes them think that things are getting better. There is always a good place to go to. There is always hope. So I hope it builds people up a little bit through its honesty and its sincerity.