Where would blues and country music be if the world were full of clean living monogamous men who had no demons to fight? RJ Comer would not be the best person to ask. His chequered past has followed the ritual rite of passage involving violence, addiction and suicide attempts.
Needless to say, loving relationships have not always proceeded smoothly either. Perhaps he has a point when he sings “If you had my kind of trouble” You’d Drink Like I Do Too.
For many years, Comer gave up on music altogether to get straight. He qualified as an attorney and worked as a partner in an LA law firm. That explains that it’s only now that he’s gotten round to recording his first solo album.
He recruited some Nashville musicians for his backing band and set out to make a record that would entertain and inspire. However, the cover image of a car wrapped around a tree gives fair warning that he doesn’t skip lightly over the dark years that led up it.
The title track is not simply a romantic memory but conjures up Judas’ betrayal. The video for this is preceded by a quotation from Edgar Allan Poe: “I became insane, with long periods of horrible sanity”.
A battle with faith and identity is evident from other biblically themed tunes – Cain’s Blood and Bad Day In Paradise.
Nevertheless, his solid, crooner’s instinct remains intact and the music is ultimately a celebration of love and survival. He now describes himself as “a guy who loves my wife of 22 years, drives a truck and lives in the forest”.
Turning his back on city ways seems to have been a key factor in this change of fortunes. On Under A Lover’s Moon he sings of the relief of moving “from high rise buildings to high rise trees”.
Still, the bruised baritone voice and wealth of authentic detail leave the listener in no doubt that his journey to this more stable existence has followed a rough road. This may be a familiar tale but it is one well told .
It is a testament to the fact that Comer has travelled down plenty of lost highways without crashing.