Belief. There were times in the last few years where that’s all that Jimmy Wayne seemingly had. Belief in himself, his music and the firm belief that people can and will relate to the songs that he’s written. After scoring a moderately successful self-titled debut record (which saw two singles go Top 10) with DreamWorks Records, Jimmy Wayne had a rough period of where his label closed and then, after signing with Big Machine Records, Jimmy saw a couple of singles fail to do too much at radio. When his label opened up a sister label, The Valory Music Company, Jimmy was transferred to that label and one of the flagship artists along with Jewel. Jimmy then released the single “Do You Believe Me Now” and, despite a non-traditional melody, the song became a huge hit.
Now with a hit song (Jimmy’s first #1 hit), Wayne has presented the world with his sophomore album, also called “Do You Believe Me Now.” The album is far from traditional country arrangements but if anyone has listened to Jimmy’s first record they’d know that he’s a pop/country artist. Meaning many of the melodic arrangements are ‘pop’ while his lyrics are country. It is those lyrics that drive the album, from the declarations of love on the Rory Feek (of Joey+Rory) and Dave Pahanish-penned “I Will” and “I’ll Be That To You” (one of three tracks produced by Mark Bright) to the more personal songs ripped directly from Jimmy Wayne’s life: “Kerosene Kid,” “Where You’re Going” and “I Didn’t Come Here To Lose.”
Songwriters Joe West and Dave Pahanish co-produced the other nine tracks on the album and they really do seem to enhance Jimmy’s pop-sensibility. “Brighter Day” is a song that actually sounds like it could’ve been from one of Kenny Chensey’s albums with a sunny, beach-y optimism in the lyric being backed by a similar melody while “Kerosene Kid” has distorted guitars and an 80’s rock vibe but it actually suits the lyrics and mood of the song. Prior to the albums release there was some publicity about Patty Loveless joining Jimmy in the studio for the ballad “No Good For Me.” A true duet, the pair actually has remarkable chemistry and their voices blend together nicely. The song actually uses an addict/drug analogy for co-dependency. It’s a heart wrenching lyric sung by two strong vocalists.
Lori McKenna and Liz Rose co-wrote the ballad “True Believer” and in true Lori McKenna fashion, the song has a strong, reality-based lyric about being someone who holds to the hope of true love. While Jimmy didn’t write “I Didn’t Come Here to Lose” (Jason Sellers, Wendell Mobley and Neil Thrasher did) he has certainly lived the lyric about believing in yourself and your ability enough to stand up and fight for your opportunity to ‘make it’ in your chosen career. The hook of the chorus is strong and immediate, something that’s also present in the autobiographical “Where You’re Going,” a song that has become Jimmy Wayne’s personal motto: It’s not where you’ve been, It’s Where You’re Going.” The album closes out with re-recorded versions of Jimmy’s biggest hits “Stay Gone” and “I Love You This Much.”
With the release of “Do You Believe Me Now” Jimmy Wayne has gotten through the tough times and come out of it with a batch of strong country/pop songs that showcase a truly gifted and honest performer. The melodies may not be arranged in the way of a Hank Williams song or even a George Strait song but that’s part of the appeal of the album. It’s a modern country album for modern country tastes.