Saugeye, the collaborative project of Tulsa-based singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, Jared Tyler, shares a new single, “She Believes,” ahead of its self-titled debut. An avid fisherman, Tyler named the band after his favorite fish to catch and eat—a hybrid blend of the Sauger and the Walleye—a fitting moniker for what he describes as “hybrid roots music.”
“She Believes,” an original Tyler penned several years ago with Buddy Owens and Mark Sanders, encapsulates the spirit of the woman. The lyrics detail a deep friendship with idyllic admiration.
“It’s about how women make the world go round,” the artist explains. “It’s the women in my life who believed in me, who allowed me to follow my dreams. They taught me how to be a real man.”
Chorus lines reflect this sentiment. Tyler sings a gracious lamentation, “She believes in wings / So I have no fear of flying / And I’m not afraid to dream / ’cause she believes in mine.”
As a songwriter, Tyler feels this structure is an accurate reflection of his simplistic approach to storytelling. “It’s true-blue me, with a bit of poetic license,” he laughs. “You could call it ‘poetically very true.’”
Tyler began his professional career as the longtime sideman to acclaimed singer-songwriter Malcolm Holcombe, whom he repeatedly honors throughout his work. His solo releases include 2006’s Blue Alleluia featuring guest vocals from Emmylou Harris, Here With You in 2010, and most recently, Dirt On Your Hands in 2017.
Saugeye, due January 29 via Horton Records, is a concept album intended to capture the galvanic energy of the band’s live performances. The collective served as Tyler’s backing band for his 2017 solo album. With undeniable chemistry, the group landed residencies that exhibited they were a natural fit. Like many, Saugeye was just hitting a stride when 2020 brought their short-run to a screeching halt. This record is an opportunity to show the world what they weren’t able to experience on the road this year.
The project includes Seth Lee Jones, a third-generation guitarist and luthier, Jake Lynn, drummer for Jason Boland & The Stragglers, and Casey Van Beek, a member of The Tractors. His career also includes time alongside Glenn Frey and Don Henley in Linda Ronstadt’s band.
Recorded at Tulsa’s Black Box Studio in a single day, they cut all the tracks live with background vocals, and B3 organ added later. A few of the songs are Tyler’s hand-selected originals—including “Keystone Lillie,” Tyler’s recently penned, beautiful tribute to his faithful dog—and covers of the band’s friends and favorites.
Song-by-song, the band redefines roots music, honoring their predecessors with novelty. Their powerful rendition of Bill Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands” imitates his famed approach but features an added original verse. The band does justice to singer-songwriter Malcolm Holcombe’s “To the Homeland” and “One Leg at a Time.” “Gideon’s Bible,” by the late Brandon Jenkins, is the band’s homage to the considerable lyrical talents of their sorely missed friend.
Looking ahead, Tyler is sure he will proceed on his continuous trajectory as a solo artist, but he is proud of what he’s accomplished as just a part of the whole. Functioning as one vital piece of an intricate machine challenged him as a musician. Recording this album amidst a pandemic was no less a feat. Saugeye is a patchwork of generations of music tradition traced back to the famously fertile ground of Tulsa.
“This is a unit,” Tyler expresses proudly of his project. “We are one soul up on that stage, and I hope this album epitomizes that.”
Listen exclusively to “She Believes” below, and look out for Saugeye’s self-titled album on January 29.