Review: Jared Dustin Griffin’s Creative Confession

Videos by American Songwriter

Jared Dustin Griffin
Battle Cry Mercy
independent release
3.5 Out of Five Stars

Like most artists, Jared Dustin Griffin was waylaid during the pandemic and given plenty of time to muse and meditate about what he needed to do in order to move forward. The result of those endeavors, Battle Cry Mercy, is a meaningful collection of rugged, resilient songs that reflect a sense of struggle, sacrifice, and ultimate redemption. Griffin’s own individual challenges, as informed by his battles with mental health issues, homelessness, failed romance, and addiction, are at the root of these songs, and indeed the impassioned performances shared with opening tracks “My Name Is Cannonball” and “Bleed You Away,” reflect the fact his life has often been burdened with misery and marginalization. 

That said, Griffin is clearly driven. While the cloud of circumspect hangs heavy over this set of songs, his gruff vocals reflect the fact that he refuses to allow his demons to take command. The upbeat “Sweet Ol’ Loneliness” makes a case for relishing isolation, while “Little Arrows” is surprisingly jolly and jaunty in its dramatic delivery. “Bottle on the Stove” confronts his temptations head-on, making it clear that he’s aware of the challenges he faces with any attempt to stay sober. The wistful “Black and Gold” follows suit. 

Griffin’s gritty vocals are especially affecting throughout, and when he sings dying ain’t no sin in the song “Hold My Troubles,” he affects the sound of a man who’s determined his destiny and is unafraid to face it head-on. So too, the tender trappings of “Howlin” share a sense of resignation, and while hardly serendipitous, it’s not about surrender. Griffin’s a tenacious troubadour with a clear desire to persevere despite whatever obstacles may come his way. There’s a decided insistence imbued in each of these offerings, and on a song like the fiddle-fueled “Outpost Blues,” that resilience is all too obvious. 

Given its meticulous arrangements—no less than 22 musicians help Jared realize this musical quest— Battle Cry Mercy is wholly expressive in terms of its drive and daring. I must try to find the courage in this battle with who I am, he declares on the album’s sad and sobering final track, the tellingly-titled “Landmines.” Both confessional and compelling, it like the album as a whole, resonates with resolve

Courtesy At The Helm PR

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