I get a lot of my new music recommendations from other artists I follow giving shout-outs on Instagram, and while I frustratingly can’t remember who mentioned Jared Deck to thank them, I’m most grateful that they brought his name to my attention. What I do remember about discovering Deck however, is that before I had even finished watching a single performance, I was already asking: “How on earth isn’t this guy more well known?”.
As I’ve continued to listen to him, never failing to be impressed by his strong, soulful voice and great musicianship (especially in his fantastic DittyTV set – recently removed from YouTube but still available on the DittyTV website), the question of his lack of notoriety – even in somewhat niche americana circles – is something I’ve continued to ponder.
Oklahoma native and resident Deck has held down many jobs in his life (including working on a farm and a factory before later owning his own mobile phone dealership), but given his highly passionate live performances – and the fact he has a BA in Music Performance – I think it’s fair to say that music has always been where his heart has been; but like so many solo artists, his foray into music saw him start out as part of a group.
Having previously been part of rock band The Voice Of, it was with the ‘cow punk’ Green Corn Revival that Deck first managed to gain some recognition. The music has a rougher edge to it compared with his future solo work, but no matter, the ever present and unmissable fire in his voice still cuts a clear path straight through.
Green Corn Revival put out an EP and two albums in their six years as a band, but eventually called it quits in 2015, leaving Deck to go solo and thus far, to produce two excellent albums, beginning with his self-titled debut in 2016. ‘Jared Deck’ is an album full of small town stories, but ones that feel real and never get oversimplified with the saccharine syrupiness that can taint mainstream country.
“The stories on this record, these are stories that people, where I live, actually live every day including myself. I hope that people takeaway that honesty and I hope that people relate to it” Deck reflected when the album was released in 2016. “I hope people takeaway that honesty because I hear the songs on the radio and they’re all about everything’s so great, life is so awesome. I’ve got money, I’ve got the best vehicle, I’ve got all these things and I’m like, ‘man, that is so awesome. Where do you live? I think that the reality is that we all fail at things”. This is a sentiment summed up nowhere better than on the winner of the 2016 Woody Guthrie Songwriting Competition, ‘The American Dream’:
While there is a definitely some homespun, everyday storytelling on Deck’s second album ‘Bully Pulpit’ (‘Make Your Mama Proud’ for example, is a simple tale of a man trying to raise his children after the death of his wife), where Deck’s really finds his power is when he takes on far loftier issues like politics in Trump-era America on the blistering ‘Great American Breakdown’.
“Tell me you love me and I’ll give you a show / I ain’t the devil just the devil you know / Building a wall just like old Jericho,” he rails against the former American president. “Show me the money and I’ll open the door / Hand you the keys, a little quid pro quo / Ruling the world like a reality show / Give me all your love / Lord, it’s an American breakdown / The great American breakdown.”
In a not too surprising twist given the themes of his most recent release, recently Deck has been dedicating a lot of his time to politics since he was elected as a Democratic Representative for the Oklahoma House of Representatives in late 2022, and hasn’t released a new album since 2019. He is however, I am pleased to report, very much still gigging and an active musician, so as noble as a career in politics is, let’s hope that he finds some time to put out another record very soon.