These days, with the prominence of Billy Blue Records in the bluegrass world, it is easy to see Jerry Salley primarily as the hard charging A&R guy with the label. But old hands in our industry know Jerry as a solid songwriter of long standing, and a persuasive vocalist, especially as an interpreter of his own songs.
Given the many demands of producing and co-writing with Billy Blue artists, it’s not surprising that Salley doesn’t get around to recording as a solo artist that often. He does, however, have a new single this month, the first from his upcoming album The Songwriter, on his very own Very Jerry Records.
It will be a full project of solo written songs, which he says has turned out to be the most personal record he has ever made.
“I’ve had the great fortune to cowrite with some of music’s very finest writers, and I am so grateful for those may opportunities, but this is a collection of tunes that are all from me, my heart, my dreams and stories. It’s very special to me in a different way.”
For this first single Jerry has chosen a heartbreak song, What Kind of Fool (Do You Think You’re Foolin‘), a mid-tempo number with a bit of Tex-Mex feel, about a man who realizes his lover is pulling away.
He says this one didn’t come as easily as some of his other songs, many of them cut by esteemed acts like The Osborne Brothers, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Rhonda Vincent, Lonesome River Band, Balsam Range, Seldom Scene, Flatt Lonesome, IIIrd Tyme Out, Larry Stephenson, Donna Ulisse, and Irene Kelley.
“What Kind Of Fool took me a while to complete. Most of the time, when I write a song, I start with an idea or title, and then as the lyric develops, I try to ‘marry’ an interesting, ‘feels-right’ melody to the lyric. In this case, I started with just the hook line, ‘What Kind of Fool do you think you’re foolin”, and a melody in my head. So, I worked a little backwards from my usual songwriting routine, writing a lyric that metered and sang well over that melody. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so it took me a while, writing many versions of the lyric before I was satisfied and felt the song was ‘right.'”
Support on the track comes from Cody Kilby on guitar, Justin Moses on banjo and reso-guitar, Jason Roller on fiddle and mandolin, and Evan Winsor on bass. Harmony vocals come from Jerry’s daughter, Magnolia Williams.
Have a listen, and sing along with the lyric video…
What Kind of Fool (Do You Think You’re Foolin’) is available now from popular download and streaming services online. Radio programmers will find the track at AirPlay Direct.