When rising country singer Willie Jones sings about his "Back Porch," it's a reminder that whether you're in your hometown or enjoying a seaside vacation, there's no chill spot quite like a porch.
Country song tropes about porches are especially true when there's only a screen door separating you from a fridge stocked with beer, and friends you've known since high school plan on dropping by for a COVID-19 quarantine-friendly hangout session.
As the "Back Porch" music video drives home, it's the sort of feel-good party song that could be set anywhere, from Jones' hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana to the hills of North Carolina and the sublet apartments of New York City.
Jones wrote the song with producers Michael Lotten and Nick Autry.
Fans of The X Factor USA might remember Jones from a 2012 performance of Josh Turner's "Your Man." A national television audience watched on as an unknown contestant shocked notoriously hard to please judge Simon Cowell and future mentor Demi Lovato with that rich baritone voice and an undeniable gift for wringing all the emotion from country song lyrics.
Nowadays, Jones navigates creative hotbeds Nashville and Los Angeles on his own terms, as a gifted songwriter and a performer with an ear for hip-hop, pop and other styles that permeate mainstream country music.
"Willie is writing mature songs, but with vernacular that's accessible to kids right now," says Music Row songwriter Jimmy Robbins to Rolling Stone Country. "The way he speaks is very current. There's a freeform, in-the-moment thought process that happens with him, but he's never sacrificing what we love in Nashville, which is the craft of songwriting."
Jones hopes he's on the ground level of change in a genre that, as Maren Morris reminded us in a CMA Awards acceptance speech, has a horrible track record when it comes to providing Black performers with a clear path to sustained success.
"It's dope to just see Black people in country, expanding the genre," Jones told Rolling Stone in 2019. "That's what I wanted to see from the jump, so it's cool to actually be coming up and see younger Black people telling their stories."
Other examples of Jones' promise include "Bachelorettes on Broadway" plus Love Harder and Rynn collaboration "Yeehaw." Major platforms for his music since The X Factor USA include a stint with the same social media influencer tour that brought us Shawn Mendes, Magcon.
On Nov. 20, Jones goes from sampling T.I.'s "Whatever You Like" on the song "Down For It" to collaborating with the Atlanta rapper on a new "Down For It" remix.