Third-generation Arkansan, Billy Jeter comes from a long line of family in the Delta with a farm dating back to 1910 they are still working on today, with lineage that also reaches the Ozark’s. The Jeter family are populated by a variety of talent including painters, writers and folk musicians and Billy Jeter is a storytelling songwriter hiding with the best of them in the country. He combines several genres together including primarily folk and blues, but it rounds out to 60s and 70s country, rock and bluegrass influences as well.
If I were to try and nail the influences on the “Sins Of Me” single, it falls somewhere between Bob Dylan and Gillian Welch style of storytelling with a strong blues influence coming from Big Bill Broonzy (who lived on the Jeter Farm). I find this artist pedigree to be of major interest, especially after hearing this track and some others, and if the song were not up to that I would not have listened to more before reviewing it. I found the time worth taking because Jeter is that good once you dig into him and where the song fits into the great House On Fire track list.
There is so much history running through Jeter that it comes out naturally, as if it’s not him but the spirit of music in control and he just lets it happen. The effect is like hearing someone you have never heard before, but clearly knowing they have been doing it a long time. “Sins Of Me” is a confession of sins without bringing the listener down as it comes from a deeper place but doesn’t go beyond the simplicities it should to get his message across. The slide guitar and banjo go a long way to help that message stick, especially in the year 2020.
The best thing you can say about a piece of music is improvisation, and “Sins Of Me” has a musical sense of freedom, rather than restriction as the songs flows from first note to the last without losing you in between. This magical flow makes the song by way of the magic of the songwriter in ways retaining art through semi-acoustic powers being the deeper element than the lyrics. The objective is, it is good on both ends of the spectrum without relying on the depth of lyrics to construct a great song and deliver a message that is musically well balanced.
“Sins Of Me” is a great way to turn onto Billy Jeter, but there is so much more to hear, so it’s also worth mentioning the House On Fire because it is surrounded by an assortment of well crafted tunes and that is only his current work. Jeter also tours but that is currently not happening with anyone at-the moment, so it’s important to stay up on the music as it continues to get released. Hat’s off to Billy Jeter and anyone else able to carry on and move forward, to which much gratitude is owed by music lovers.