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Chris Jones & The Night Drivers – “Leave it at the Gate”

Bluegrass; Mountain Home Music Company — STREAM / BUY single

Chris Jones is a storyteller who has long used acoustic music—mostly bluegrass, mostly original—as his medium. But whether it’s a wistful country ballad or a banjo-driven groove, one of his own or from the pen of a Music Row legend, the honesty and authenticity in his musical voice are—just like his warm, nuanced baritone itself—unmistakable. So, too, are the honesty and authenticity of the stories he tells, and the latest release from Chris Jones & The Night Drivers, “Leave it at the Gate,” is also the latest illustration of the way that his music is rooted in real life.

“This is a song that sings the praises of the kind of job you can put behind you at the end of the day,” Jones notes. “I’ve had a variety of jobs, from cow milker and delivery driver to baker and disc jockey, and while being a self-employed band leader and recording artist is very rewarding, and I’d never trade it, there are times when the kind of job that has an end point every day—one you can ‘leave at the gate’—has a lot to be said for it.”

 

 

The song’s insistent message—“I don’t have to let my job define me / Because I get to leave it at the gate”—has a timeliness the writers couldn’t have intended when the song was recorded, but stands out nonetheless as a kind of anthem for those whose lives have meaning beyond the daily work routine. The sound, too, matches the sentiment of the single, the latest in a string of hits penned by Jones and one-time Night Driver, Jon Weisberger. “It was nice to reunite with Jon as co-writer on this one, even if he’s no longer a member of the band,” Jones says. “This one spotlights Grace van’t Hof’s driving banjo work and her and Mark Stoffel’s harmony vocals.” And with award-winning bassist, Marshall Wilborn, joining the group at the same time as van’t Hof, the Night Drivers present a lineup second to none.

“I don’t feel the need for second-guessing / I’m glad for the choices that I’ve made,” Jones sings as the song nears its end, sounding a note that mixes acceptance and confidence in a way that surely echoes many listeners’ own thoughts, and makes “Leave it at the Gate” a likely candidate for the next Chris Jones & the Night Drivers #1.