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Jay Allen in a car
Jay Allen
Jay Allen roars into fan’s hearts like the classic car of his new single “Mustang on Mud Tires.” The feel-good, end of summer song cruises in slowly with its soaring chorus and slowly unwinding steel guitar before heading down the straightaway for a good time ride through the country landscape. In the song, he name-checks his influences—Brooks and Dunn, One Trick Pony, Merle Haggard—and his own memories of driving a John Deere tractor on the farm. “Mustang on Mud Tires” showcases Allen’s ability to combine the rowdiness of rock with the tenderness of country, and his new single builds on his hard work and passion. Allen caught fans’ attention in 2018 with “Blank Stares,” a song he wrote for his mother, who passed away that year from early onset Alzheimer’s and that went viral with over 300 million views on Facebook. Allen had been in Nashville for a few years when his father called to say that Allen’s mother was sick. “My dad called and said, ‘I’d like to bring your mother to Nashville. Prepare your heart son.’” When his mother saw Allen, she looked straight ahead like she didn’t even see him. That night he took her out to the Sutler Inn in Nashville and as soon as she walked in and heard the music she started talking. “I wrote the line ‘I still see you in between the blank stares’,” Allen says, and knew he had to get the song out as soon as possible. With “Blank Stares” Allen has helped raise over $35 million dollars for the Alzheimer’s Association, and the song also caught the attention of Mickey Jack Cones, who signed Allen as Verge Records’ flagship artist. “Mom is the reason I believe the path of country music chose me and ultimately why I ended up in Nashville,” says Allen. “My momma introduced me to country music; she would pick me up every day from school or whatever sports practice and crank the local country radio station. We sang every word to every song all the way home at the top of our lungs to artists like Randy Travis, Clint Black, George Strait, and Shania Twain,” he recalls. Allen’s dad took him to his first concert where he rocked out to Styx. “He introduced me to AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Kiss, and Aerosmith. I remember he brought home a Matchbox 20 record, and I locked myself in my room and learned every song on guitar,” Allen chuckles.
Allen also grew up playing and singing music in church, and his love of Christian music comes from the years he spent as a worship leader in various churches in his home state of Iowa and in Nashville, and the strains of country, rock, and worship music weave their way through “Mustang on Mud Tires.” Jay Allen has always loved the authenticity and storytelling of country music, and he’s worked tirelessly to live into his own country songs, such as “Sounds Good to Me,” which was honored as “The Highway Find” by Sirius XM in 2017, and 2020’s “Tattoos in Heaven,” as well as “Hell Out of Me,” a song he and his new fiancée, country singer Kylie Morgan, wrote together. His work ethic comes from growing up in a small Iowa town outside Cedar Falls, Iowa, where his parents both worked in a little diner called Joe’s Country Grill. They’d take him to work with them where he would sit at the counter and listen to the older folks talk. One couple, Roy and Lyla Fouts, started talking to him about church, and he started going to church with them every Sunday. They had a farm, and Allen started working with them there. “The Fouts taught me how to work hard, to be respectful, to love, and being with them I developed a really strong character and faith,” recalls Allen. “Roy also heard me singing along to a hymn one day, and he asked me to lead the singing in church.” Allen’s over 72 tattoos are his way of keeping track of where he’s been in life. “After I got my first tattoo,” he says, “I asked myself why I got one. The first one I got was a cross. I realized that when I look into the mirror every morning, it’s like looking into the rearview, since every tattoo is associated with a particular event in my life.” When people see him performing, they often judge him because of his appearance. His music, though, reveals his sensitive side, his storytelling ability, and his own blend of toughness and tenderness. Allen’s “Mustang on Mud Tires,” off a forthcoming EP, launches him well into the country stratosphere. The singer’s vocals resonate with openness and emotional vulnerability, telling a story of laying back and letting life come as it will, splashing a little mud on the tires, and reveling in life.

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