I JUST GOT FIRED FROM CHURCH
Jared Deck was fired from his last church music job - via text message. “I was in the studio, tracking vocals for my first album, when I got the text. I remember saying, ‘I just got fired from church.’ The producer asked if I wanted to quit for the night. I said, ‘No, let’s keep going,’ hopped into the booth, and did another take.”
That defiant, never quit attitude is a lifelong theme for blue-collar songwriter, Jared Deck, and dominates his new album, Bully Pulpit.
“I had played in churches my entire life, but that megachurch was a doozy. There was this wall of deception, complete with lip-syncing and fake-playing instruments. At one point, I was required to watch video of myself and told to look ‘more real’ on stage while no actual sound came from my instrument. The irony was palpable. Ultimately, I hit a point of no return, and my boss told me to walk. In hindsight, I should’ve trusted my instincts instead of submitting for the good of the order.”
But in a life marked by perseverance, Deck has risen from harder times.
THE KIND OF THING YOU SEE ON TV
As a young factory worker, Jared saw firsthand the heartache of corporate outsourcing. “My crew got off shift at 7 a.m. and received a note as we walked out, asking that we return for a plant-wide meeting at 9:30. So we went to the coffee shop to stay awake and speculate upon the big news.” At the meeting, it was announced that outsourcing was afflicting western Oklahoma.
“I was lucky to be so young (27 at the time), but many of my friends had made careers there. It was difficult for some to bounce back. I remember thinking, ‘This is the kind of thing you see on TV, something that happens to other people.’ But this time, it happened to us.”
This seemingly hopeless experience inspired Deck to go into politics, running for Oklahoma State House of Representatives at age 28. “I should’ve gotten my tail kicked, but I worked hard and my message seemed to resonate with folks. So I lost by a little instead of a lot.”
Deck released his eponymous debut album in 2016 to critical acclaim from outlets such as Rolling Stone Country and American Songwriter. He won First Place in the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival Songwriting Contest for his song, The American Dream. However, with his follow-up record, he wanted to unmask further, include more of his influences, and open up his voice.
“After the debut, I still had more to say – more stories to tell. Additionally, I’ve often compartmentalized my different musical influences; I kept the gospel at church and the country at the honky-tonk. With Bully Pulpit, I tore down those walls to expose a more ruthless honesty about myself, my experiences, and my reflections on the world around me.”
From gospel shouts to country croons, Bully Pulpit showcases Deck’s road-ripened voice. From Where I Fall - a heartbreaking country tale of how tragic loss can divide a home - to True Believer - a stern gospel-esque warning of false prophets and politicians, Jared’s voice puts a shine to otherwise coarse subjects. While the folky Make Your Mama Proud provides a glimpse of tenderness, Great American Breakdown showcases Deck’s gritty rock-n-roll side. A timeless ballad, Sometimes I Miss Being Lonely fetches a new perspective of holiday blues, and Over and Over finishes the album like a benedictory hymn.
“Folk music is who we ought to be, rock-n-roll is who we want to be, and country music is who we really are. Personally, I find a bit of myself in all of them.”
Jared returned to 115 Recording in Norman, OK to work with Grammy-nominated producer, Wes Sharon (John Fullbright, Parker Millsap, Turnpike Troubadors). “Wes has become a musical partner. We discuss how life affects what we create and share our favorite records with each other, simultaneously expanding our horizons and sharpening our connection.” For Bully Pulpit, Sharon convened such accomplished musicians as Turnpike Troubadours’ Gabe Pearson (drums) and Hank Early (pedal steel), along with Dan Walker (organ), who plays for Heart, and members of Deck’s backing band, The Travelers. Legendary fiddler, Byron Berline (Flying Burrito Brothers, Linda Ronstadt, Rolling Stones), adds his touch, as well. The background vocals of Oklahoma treasures Chanda Graham and Myra Beasley add the final polish to this soulful album. The album will be distributed by Smith Entertainment.
REASON TO BELIEVE
For a man who’s been on both sides of the pulpit, outsourced by a corporation, defeated in an election, and fired from church, the album title rings true. Bully Pulpit harmonizes Deck’s country storytelling with his gospel upbringing and blue-collar authenticity. “Through every failure, I never stop believing in the truth of my experiences, the man I hope to be, or my ability to reach any goal I choose. I move forward at all costs, tell my story, and hope it resonates.”