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Jamie Kent at The Hotel Cafe 11/16/16. Photo by Michelle Shiers (@MichelleShiers) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
Jamie Kent at The Hotel Cafe 11/16/16. Photo by Michelle Shiers (@MichelleShiers) for www.BlurredCulture.com.

Although Nashville, TN seems to always be brimming with amazing new talent, Massachusetts-based country-soul artist Jamie Kent stands out from the crowd with his husky voice that tells earnest stories of modern Americana. Having been recently dubbed as one of Rolling Stone’s new “Artists You Need To Know”, things are looking bright for this hardworking songwriter.

Now touring in support of his new record “All American Mutt” which debuted on the Billboard Top Country charts at #16, Kent made a stop in Los Angeles at The Hotel Cafe’s second stage on Wednesday night. Along with a cajon player and upright bassist, Jamie Kent started his set with “Broke Not Broken” from his 2015 EP “Embers & Ashes”. Though not everyone in the crowd may have known Kent personally, it certainly felt like a family affair, probably in part thanks to his every-man honesty and amiable wit. One of the most important things for a country artist to retain is a humble nature and Kent certainly has it. He joked:

“This is a song of mine called ‘Still A Dream’. Last year Rolling Stone premiered the music video for it. I dunno what the hell they were thinking but I sure do appreciate it.”

Kent’s lyrics are plainspoken yet evocative. It is obvious listening to him that he is writing songs to get people thinking and talking about issues that perhaps aren’t getting considered enough. “Home Again” was a thoughtful number about the mental battle that soldiers go through once they’ve returned home.

Kent is essentially an acoustic folk artist but more importantly, he is an observationalist with a fresh set of eyes and a handsome face. Getting audience participation wasn’t difficult as Kent seems like the kind of person you’d want to sing with in a circle. He asked:

Who’s ready to do some singin’ tonight? The golden rule of audience participation at a Jamie Kent show is not the quality of your voice … that counts for shit…. it’s just the volume.”

It wasn’t hard to get strong participation during “Bonfire” or even some strong humming-along during the harmony-driven “Safe”. Kent, who has played over a hundred shows a year, has been able to see a lot of the country and the different people and cultures in it. He describes himself as an “all American mutt” who has realized the true value in America as a melting pot – a sentiment that definitely hit close to home.

After taking a photo of the audience, he explained his belief that cell phones are going to be our downfall after a number of people text-walked into him and their moving tour van (“Jean Claude Band Van”) and moved into the self-explanatory “Look Up” from the new album.

As if the audience needed one more reason to want to have a beer with Kent, the trio did a country-tinged rendition of Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time” which gave upright-bassist Reece Williams an unlikely time to shine. With whoops and dance moves, Kent seemed to enjoy himself the most during this unexpected cover –important proof that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Both playfulness and emotive depth are important roots in country music and Kent seems to have a narrative that explores a healthy emotional range. For the last song of the night, the band hopped off the stage and onto the floor to perform “Be Your Man” with Dan Holmes on the washboard, reminding us that when it comes to connecting with people, stages are so overrated.

Follow Jamie Kent on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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