It's only been two and a half years since Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance released their last album, San Isabel, but in some ways, it was a lifetime ago.
No one would blame the duo otherwise known as Jamestown Revival for wanting to roar back from the silence of the pandemic with a big, sweeping barn burner of a record, as their last one arrived just months before the world turned upside down. But instead, Clay and Chance have stepped back and crafted what's billed as their "quietest" record yet, an album called Young Man. And somehow, it's perfectly fitting.
"I don't know if we intentionally chose not to do electric guitars on this album," says Chance, speaking with Variance on a December morning ahead of the album's release. "Or I think we just didn't feel like the songs necessarily needed it. And it was kind of a fun."
They recorded the 10-track effort, which is out Friday (Jan. 14) at Fort Worth, Texas studio Niles City Sound with Josh Block, who has previously collaborated with Fort Worth's own Leon Bridges, as well as Robert Ellis, long a Variance favorite, who was recently featured on and co-produced The Lone Bellow frontman Zachary Williams' new solo album Dirty Camaro.
Despite the band being from Texas, on this new record, they seem to embracing their roots in a new way. And it's refreshing.
"There's just maybe a hint more of a country and sort of folk traditions," explains Chance, giving a nod to Ellis' "musicality and kind of crazy genius."
Perhaps a sign of the bond the guys have formed, Ellis will be joining Jamestown Revival on the road starting this week, as opening act and as a member of their band.
"He's opening the shows and then playing in our band as well, and he's also put together a new album that's just amazing," says Chance. "Like, I don't want to speak out of turn, but I'm excited for the rest of the world to get to hear when he decides to share it."
While in many ways, Young Man is a record looking beyond the world of 2020, not necessarily speaking to current events or inspired by crisis, Chance admits he and Clay probably wouldn't be releasing this album had the state of the world not been what it was for the past couple of years.
"I don't think we would have made this record had the pandemic not come along," he says. "Because I do think that time allowed us to be a little more sedentary, a little more reflective."
He continues: "The whole idea of the Young Man album was born out of that, just, sense of trying to identify with our younger selves, trying to identify with maybe a more mature outlook on the world and then—Jon has two boys, so also trying to relate to that feeling and life lessons that we've collected and what he would want to pass on to his children."
As Chance explains, the record isn't so much about regrets or mistakes, but simply looking inward, reflecting on lessons learned and thinking about a time the whole world is ahead of you.
"I think there was a period during the pandemic when we weren't playing shows that, I know for myself, I kind of had an identity crisis," he confesses. "So I was like, 'Do I enjoy playing music? Was I ever any good at it? But you know, then you look back, and you're like, 'Man, who were those two guys that were sleeping in the back of their car, staying at truck stops and playing shows wherever they could?' So I think it's just trying to relate to that spark you have when you're young and it just feels like you're invincible." ■