The surprise drops that work so well in pop and R&B wouldn’t necessarily translate to the insistently independent country scene that Cody Jinks is a part of, but he’s pulled off his own version. When he took his band into the studio to record the follow-up to 2018’s Lifers, the sessions yielded not just After the Fire, an album announced months ahead of its release, but The Wanting, a belatedly revealed second full-length. "The material that's on The Wanting is your sadder, hurting, emotional type of things," Jinks tells Apple Music. "And After the Fire is coming up for air. It's the better side of things.
Nearly from start to finish, After the Fire describes the struggle to live a faithful, upright life on the club circuit. “More of the songs are geared to my wife of 22 years,” Jinks explains. “She was at the first show I ever played, about 3,000 shows ago when I was 17, so that record is heavily influenced by her. I am trying to be a good husband to this wonderful lady and I am trying to be a good father to these kids, but there's the other side of the coin where some days I'm just not, but I'm still trying.” He places his wife Rebecca's perspective front and center during “Tell Em What It’s Like,” a hearty midtempo ballad that acknowledges the hardships she endures with a frequently absent partner, and “Think Like You Think,” a melancholy number in which he praises her for calling out his hypocrisy. A song she co-wrote, “William and Wanda,” celebrates a late couple’s lifelong faithfulness. But the gravitas doesn’t make the album a staid affair. “One Good Decision,” about passing up a one-night stand, is a hopped-up honky-tonk shuffle, and just past a minute into “Ain’t a Train,” a ferocious fiddle solo fires up a hard-rocking groove. "I'm a honky-tonker, and honky-tonk encompasses a little bit of everything. It's country, it's rock, it's rhythm and blues, it's blues, it's all of that." Here Jinks talks through a few of the key tracks on After the Fire.
Tell’em What It’s Like “I had both verses, and Josh Morningstar came to my house and I showed him that song. Because Josh was going through the same thing. All my buddies are going through this; so are all of our wives. Right after I played those two verses for him, he played the chorus almost in its entirety. Everybody thinks that it's just a fairy tale and that living with me has got to be the just most awesome, coolest thing ever, and it's really not. The times I've come off tour and I've been gone for months at a time and you just have an emotional breakdown, and that's what [Rebecca] has to deal with.”
Think Like You Think “I actually wrote that 15 years ago with a guy named David Banning. And we didn't even have children when I wrote that song, so I don't know if it's life imitating art or vice versa. I had put that song on one of my first two records that are no longer in print. We didn't really do anything different to it other than just me singing like I sing now, 15 years later, after smoking and drinking and all that. My voice isn't as clear as it used to be, but I think it actually sounds a little better now singing that song.”
“Ain't a Train” “Out of all 22 songs, ‘Ain't a Train’ was my favorite when we first wrote it. Josh and I wrote that song together. What we were talking about was we're both the type of guys that are always looking over our shoulder. Like, you know that light at the end of the tunnel is a train. You just know it is, so you're going to get halfway down the tunnel and then it's going to be too late to turn around and start running the other way. We both come from that kind of neurotic, catastrophic thought process, like at any given time just the world is going to implode on you. That one, it just grooves, because it's got a nice cool, mellow beginning and then at the end of it, man, it's just punching you in the face.”