Macon, Ga., the city associated with the rise of the Allman Brothers Band and Otis Redding, now brings us JB Strauss, a locally-bred, Nashville-based singer-songwriter likened to fellow rock-influenced, gruff-voiced performers Chris Stapleton and Brent Cobb.
Soon, more than down-South barflies will know about Strauss' talent, thanks to his debut EP, Man Possessed, out this Fri., Dec. 6 and premiering today via Wide Open Country.
"I chose Man Possessed as the title of the EP because it's in part about taking the leap into music and everything that led to that choice," Strauss says. "My grandfather is a retired judge, one of a few good lawyers in my family. I referenced him (in the song 'Man Possessed') to show that we're all possessed by something; and even though I started down the same path as all of them, my 'demon' was music."
Per Strauss, his possession by music and shift from working in the legal sector came gradually.
"I'd always been good with lyrics and growing up in Macon, Ga., I was exposed to iconic music at an early age, but I didn't start playing or singing until I was about 18," he says. "After a couple years of Wednesday night open mic gigs for beer money in college, I put pen to paper and my craft took shape. I saw guys like Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson rewriting the same book that I'd fallen in love with as a kid, and it inspired me. By the time I got to law school, it was more about letting go and not fighting it than making a conscious choice to do this for a living."
Despite changing career paths, Strauss addresses the prison system with story-driven blues-rocker "Piss Ant Hill." On other songs, Strauss looks to his home state's natural beauty for lyrical inspiration, as heard on two Southern rock-inspired tunes, "Carolina Siren" and "Lady Cuscowilla," as well as the acoustic "Wrong Side of the River."
Strauss plays an EP release party, featuring special guest Adam Wakefield, on Dec. 5 at The Basement in Nashville. Wakefield, a former The Voice runner-up, produced the EP, which features Marc Ford of the Black Crowes on lead guitar.
Expect more tour dates in the near future from an artist devoted to following his musical passion.
"I plan on getting on the road a lot more in 2020," Strauss says. "I wanna get out and play to make up for lost time and write a full-length record while I'm out there. This is where the the fun of making music meets the hard work of getting it right."