Punk and grunge rocker turned country traditionalist Charlie Smyth earns George Jones comparisons the honest way on forthcoming solo release The Way I Feel. Beyond being named for a cover song co-written by Jones and Roger Miller, the album features another cut made famous by the Possum in "The Cold Hard Truth" -- premiered today by Wide Open Country.
Writer Jamie O'Hara released the original version as a 1993 single, with George Jones selecting it as an album's title track in 1999. Both versions tell of lost opportunities through the viewpoint of "the truth" -- an omniscient force that alternates between being the devil and the angel on the singers' shoulders.
Smyth discovered the song through Jones' version, finding its themes of selfishness and shortsightedness painfully relatable. "I imagine that most people have felt that way at some time, which is probably why George thought it was compelling enough to re-cut and why it got under my skin," he says. "I've been surprised at how often people are unfamiliar with the song as to me it has always had the feel of a classic. I can only hope I've done it some justice in my recording."
In Smyth's version, his wife Kalee's backup vocals are placed on an even level with Smyth's voice in the mix, turning the chorus into an empathetic duet.
"This gives a voice to the people we hurt when we make those selfish bad decisions," he says. "It takes away a little bit of the 'I've done wrong' sense of martyrdom that sometimes can make a confessional song see self-serving. The song is a confessional though written from the perspective of an omniscient accuser. The decision to bring her vocal more forward in the mix occurred during the recording process and was one of those in-studio choices that I feel helped strengthen the purpose of the song."