Jordan Davis has been surrounded by music for as long as he can remember.
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Growing up in Shreveport, Louisiana, Davis and his father Ricky would make frequent trips to nearby Minden, their drives set to the tunes of such songwriting greats as Kris Kristofferson, John Prine, and Jim Croce.
“[From] a very early age, I fell in love with songwriters,” Davis tells American Songwriter in a digital cover story. Another influential figure who instilled this love for songwriting is his uncle, Stan Paul Davis, who’d moved to Nashville in the 1980s to become a songwriter, scoring a pair of hits with Tracy Lawrence’s “Better Man, Better Off” and “Today’s Lonely Fool.” Davis and his father would often listen to local radio station KISS Country Station on their drives in hopes of hearing Stan’s songs. His uncle’s success in Nashville, coupled with his parents’ passion for music—his father writing songs and singing around the house while his mother Luwanna played piano in church—planted the seed in the young Davis that he, too, could be a songwriter one day.
“I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was exposed to how to truly craft a great song,” Davis remarks of his uncle’s impact. “My uncle being here in town, from an early age, I was around really talented songwriters. I don’t think I realized how much that was helping me become a better songwriter. That was a huge influence on me.”
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After graduating from Louisiana State University with a degree in Environmental Science in 2011, Davis got a job working at an environmental company in Baton Rouge when he was hit with the epiphany that if he was ever going to move to Nashville to try to make it as a songwriter, now was the time to do it.
In 2012, he made the move to Nashville, but his path to success wasn’t an easy one. Davis still recalls the tough, yet “best” advice he received in his early days in Nashville. While in a meeting with a man who worked in the music industry, Davis played him an original song he wrote. “He’s like, ‘look man, Nashville was doing just fine before you showed up and it’s going to do just fine when you pack your bags and leave,’” Davis recalls of the “heavy advice” that “hit me like a 10-pound hammer.” “I’ve always remembered that saying and still to this day, I live by that.” Rather than being deterred by the man’s harsh feedback, Davis took it as a challenge. “That’s a very true statement,” he continues. “I didn’t want to be the guy that packed up and went home.”
True to his word, Davis kept writing, perfecting his craft to the point where he got a publishing deal with ole (now Anthem Entertainment) in 2015, turning songwriting from a passion into a profession. A year later, he signed a record deal with UMG Nashville where he blended his talents as a songwriter and artist. In 2017, he released his debut single, “Singles You Up,” which hit No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart in 2018 and solidified him as a promising new country star.
“I think that song in particular was my way of showing what I do as a songwriter,” Davis reflects. “I felt like that song was a good way to make a name for myself.” “Singles You Up” set the stage for a string of hits that followed with “Take it From Me,” “Slow Dance in a Parking Lot” and “Almost Maybes,” all reaching the top five on country radio. These songs laid the foundation for “Buy Dirt,” featuring Luke Bryan, the lead single off Davis’ introspective new album, Bluebird Days, set for release on February 17.
Co-written with his brother and fellow country singer Jacob Davis, along with brothers Matt and Josh Jenkins, “Buy Dirt” topped the Country Airplay chart and was named Song of the Year at the 2022 CMA Awards. In his acceptance speech, Davis said “we wrote a song about faith and family, and if that’s not country music, I don’t know what is.” He and the writers had this mentality when they rented a cabin just outside of Nashville and woke up early one morning trading Bible verses, leading into a discussion about what’s most important in life. “We talked about our families, how we want to raise our kids, the husbands we want to be—you don’t have to have a house on the hill to be a good dad and love your family well,” Davis describes of the songwriting process. “It was a song about loving the Lord, loving your family, and loving your friends. In my opinion, that truly is what country music is.”
The song opens with the scene of an 80-year-old man in a rocking chair on his back porch, overlooking the property he built from the ground up, leading into a chorus inspired by real-life advice Davis received from his grandfather, advising him not to chase money but rather “get your property with the people you love.”
“We were proud we wrote that song, but we didn’t think it would do anything past us being really proud of it,” Davis expresses of his and the writers’ reaction to the song’s success. “I think it showed me that truly writing from a really honest place, writing from your heart, can impact people a lot more than some cool rhymes, a cool melody, and a catchy chorus. That one has definitely changed the way I want to write songs going forward.”
Davis channeled this approach into Bluebird Days with two words in mind: growth and honesty. Davis makes good on his goal with such songs as “Money Isn’t Real,” a poignant take on how meaningful relationships in life are more valuable than a dollar, while “Short Fuse,” finds the singer holding a mirror up to himself and personal areas of growth. Davis got the idea for the song when he overheard a conversation his wife was having where she referred to him as having a “short fuse.”
“The choruses are what I want to live by, finding blessings in the small stuff,” he shares. “You miss a lot of small blessings by overlooking them and moving on to the next thing. I think that I get very ‘onto the next thing’ and there are some things that I should probably celebrate a little bit more. So I hope that I get better at that.”
The most personal song comes in the form of the title track. Inspired by his parent’s divorce, Davis revisits how it felt when his parents separated just before he left for college with the perspective of now being a father of two himself. The heart of the song is captured in the chorus that is equal parts cleverly written and genuine honesty as he sings,‘Cause the truth about living a lie is/That the lie never outlives the truth/But two hearts fell in love/And two hearts grew apart/They went their separate ways/And our bluebird days went gone.
“It’s a song I wrote to myself about how I need to approach my marriage so that my kids aren’t in the spot that I’m in now,” Davis explains of the song that expresses how the divorce “affected” him. “It’s almost like a cautionary tale of always keeping my marriage first so that my kids don’t have to deal with anything because of something I screwed up.”
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Davis also points to “Fishing Spot” as one of his favorite songs on the project. The song is an homage to his late grandfather, metaphorically revisiting the spot where they used to fish together and talk about life as he sings instead of standing at your stone/I’m sitting on your rock/Catching up with you at your fishing spot.
Looking back on the album as he prepares to share it with the world, Davis is secure in the fact that he was “100 percent honest.” Citing Bluebird Days as a “happy record,” he says it reflects where he’s at in his life with his beautiful family, two healthy children, and living his dream.
“It’s real hard to get vulnerable and be real about me about some things that I’ve gone through and some things that I’m working on. ‘Buy Dirt’ [opened] this new lane of being able to connect with fans and not just be somebody that writes catchy songs, but be somebody that I hope people can listen to my music and get something out of it the way that I did when I listened to a Kristofferson song or a Prine song,” Davis professes. “I hope that people can see that there is happiness in [this album] and even in some of the sadder songs, those sad songs helped get me to where I’m at now and realize that I need to enjoy where I’m at. I think it’s truly a record of exactly where I’m at—I’m in the bluebird days of a dream job.”
Photo by Harper Smith / Jen Vessio PR