From Northern California to Music City to the “City with Soul”, Jason Daniels’ music reflects his range of influences. A little funky, a little jammy, a little bluesy, with country influence and flavors of Latin and Caribbean thrown in. Daniels moves with ease between genres while retaining a flavor that is uniquely his own.
Growing up in the Napa Valley town of St. Helena, he picked up the guitar at the age of 8 and wrote his first song by the age of 12. Daniels was inspired by his two uncles, George and Paul Richey who were well-known musicians, songwriters and publishers who started out at Sun Records in Memphis (George was married to Tammy Wynette). As an adult, Daniels spent many years traveling and creating adventures that inspired his first record. Eventually, Daniels settled in Nashville, TN where he lived for 7 years and wrote and recorded his debut album, Dashboard Visions and Rearview Reflections. Maverick Magazine claimed it was “full of soul and grit” and was an “...album well worth seeking out” and Daniels landed on the cover of the Jackson Free Press as an “artist to pay attention to”.
Downloads From The Universe is his follow up to his lauded debut. It was recorded to tape at the legendary Malaco Studios in Jackson, MS where he’s lived for the past 7 years. The album is co-produced with Kent Bruce who engineered and mastered, and Murph Caicedo (who also plays drums on the album). “I think recording to tape and the analog recording process is an aspect of this album that makes it unique and special,” said Daniels. “Not just for the sound you get when the signal hits the tape, but also the commitment and command you must have of your performance because with the limited available tracks there is no room for multiple takes. You need to own your performance.”
Daniels has written a positive, uplifting and optimistic album, in response to the dark times we find ourselves in. “I’m trying to bring people together around music,” he said. “Trying to build a community. During a recent radio interview with Radio Free Jackson, DJ Rex McAllister called the album, ‘music for our time ‘and said it was specifically written for this challenging time, living in the first few weeks of a global pandemic.”
Daniels optimism shines through in his song titles as well, “I’m Not Going Down”, “Music is a Prayer”, “Breathe”, “Get Down With Now” and “Prayer to the World”. “’I’m Not Going Down is my personal anthem,” he confesses. “Never give up and keep fighting!”
The song “It Can All Slip Away” came about after a sobering event. Daniels was visiting California for a high-school reunion and brought his son with him to visit his grandparents. While he was attending the reunion, the infamous big fires broke out in Napa Valley. “My father’s house was in the canyon where the first fires originated,” he said. “They barely escaped with their lives. That whole experience really rocked me and got me to thinking how fragile life is, and how we shouldn’t take it for granted.”
The hill-country vibe of “I’ve Been Ramblin’” is influenced by his adopted hometown. “When people ask me why I moved to Jackson, I tell them it’s because I wanted to breathe the air and drink the water. Since moving here I’ve really fallen in love with this place. After my own ramblin’, Jackson sure is a place I love to come home to.”
The album ends on Daniels’ “Prayer to the World”. “Things have to change and we need to come together to make the world a better place,” he emphasizes. “When I wrote the song I heard a big gospel choir singing along. The gang vocals for this song were the last tracks we cut for the record. We had a bunch of fellow musicians and friends come to the studio to join in. The whole recording experience had been so fantastic and cutting these vocals with all of our friends and our collective sense of accomplishment really made for a magical session."
Daniels attributes some of the alchemy to the relationship between Kent Bruce and Murph Caicedo. “Having recorded dozens of albums together, they know each other and the way they interact really contributed to the vibe in the studio.”
With Jason Daniels on guitar and vocals and Caicedo on drums, the rest of the band is comprised of Rob Wicks on bass and Chris Nash on keys. Several other musicians were brought in for background vocals, B3, sax, harmonica and percussion. “I’m really proud of my first album. Everybody did an amazing job, but there was a transactional element to using hired players. I released my first album under just my name and this album is the Jason Daniels Band. I’ve been playing with Chris for four years now and Rob for a few years and it was magic from the first time we got together with Murph. This is an album made by a band who’ve logged hours on the road, playing shows and in rehearsals, learning how to play together. Collectively we worked so hard to prepare ourselves for these sessions, and I believe it really shows. I can’t say and I try not to worry about what anyone will think of the album, whether they love it, hate it, or are indifferent. Artistically this is the most satisfying thing I have ever created, and I know the rest of the guys will agree.”