Jack Ingram’s music has taken him far beyond the confines of the dingy Dallas honky-tonk Adair’s where he cut his teeth. He has become a national touring act and Adair’s is now a Dallas landmark. After making some noise with several independent releases and one studio album in the mid to late 90’s, it was with the 1999 release Hey You that Ingram made a strong statement he was an artist and songwriter of tremendous talent and depth.
This professional breakthrough was released on Lucky Dog records. Ingram recorded the milestone album in Nashville with producer Rick Bennett and his very own Beat Up Ford Band providing the backing tracks.
The songs he had written and collected for this album were anthems and the production was befitting of such robust songs. Ingram wrote many of the twelve tracks solo and called in such stout co-writing partners as Jim Lauderdale and Todd Snider to round out the collection.
Opening with an ominous piano riff that bleeds into an acoustic guitar playing the same riff, the powerfully personal “Biloxi” kicks off the set with a delicate blend of heartache and hope. A son longs for a father that has run off to the gambling towns of southern Mississippi, and although he can’t forgive his father for running out on him, he hopes his dad’s having a good time. It is an emotionally charged lyric that Ingram pulled from his personal experiences and Bennett and crew match the lyrical punch with equally explosive, yet appropriate music that sets a tone few have matched in modern country music.
“Talk About” opens up the lyrical topic that Ingram specializes in with his own writing, communication between lovers. The line “we’ve got to fight, just to find something to talk about”, is brilliantly indicative of the way Ingram can turn a playful phrase that in the wrong hands would seem hateful. The roadhouse romper “How Many Days?” is a classic band on the road song and the Beat Up Ford crew rips into it with no restraint and Ingram’s voice skirts the edge of abandon on the chorus. In the same vein as “How Many Days?”, is “Mustang Burn”. A non-traditional car song that rocks with an attitude that is normally displayed by rock bands. This is most likely evidence of Ingram’s strong road-dog touring of dives and dancehalls during this time period that encouraged him and his band to rock loudly above the din of clanging glass bottles and smoky rooms full of ne’er-do-wells.
Ingram returns to the relationship arena on “Work This Out”. The intro features a killer mandolin riff that gives way to a plaintive Ingram asking for another chance. He’s begging his scorned lover to take him back, tell him what he did wrong and he promises to never do it again. Romantic desperation has never had better pairing of music and lyrics. He also shows that he knows how to write a love song as well as a lovelorn song with the title track. A slight Beatles/Bakersfield vibe permeates the song as it meanders through the loving words of a lovesick man.
Hey You was a landmark album for Texas Music and Jack Ingram. It propelled him further into the national consciousness and the extraordinary quality of the music contained in this collection challenged the other Texas guys to raise their games.