Jesse Slack Talks Canadian Roots, Country-Rock, and New Single "Oughta Be Outlawed"
For critically-acclaimed country-rock artist Jesse Slack, bending genres is nothing new. He has been breaking the mold of country music since the beginning of his career, balancing work in both Ontario and Nashville, where he is a signed songwriter at Vibe City Music. With songwriting credits on a 2020’s Songtown USA Songwriter of the Year winner (Jade Eagleson’s "Hackin' Darts"), a CMAO’s 2022 Songwriter of the Year nomination (Robyn Ottolini's certified Gold single "Tell You Everything” ) and a #1 track on CMT Australia (Josh Setterfield’s single "Right About Now), he's diligently prepared himself for the next sound in his career: outlaw country.
With high commercial country appeal, his latest release "Oughta Be Outlawed" also tests the waters, seamlessly incorporating electric guitars and bass with more classic lap steel and B3 organ. Lines like, "She’s a wild west / Stone cold / Legend of the falls / A cowboy heart killer / All the way from Omaha" aren't just catchy - they're poetic. Jesse has mastered the art of country lyricism while incorporating the sonics of a newer rock movement, not unlike Eric Church, Keith Urban, or Jackson Dean.
We sat down with Jesse to discuss the single, his country roots, and what his fans can expect in this upcoming year.
FLEX: “Oughta Be Outlawed” is a clear departure from your other work, and an exciting step into the future. Tell us a little bit about how you made the decision to lean into this genre (outlaw country)?
Jesse Slack: Over the past years I have done a lot of soul searching to really find myself so I could be authentic to my audience. With that whole experience I released a single titled "Same Ol' Same'n" that really placed the footings for this departure from the style of my past work. I am excited to share this newer sound that takes pieces of some of my past songs stylistically but fosters the new unapologetic edge of outlaw country that I have had burning in my soul for a long time.
F: What was your experience like writing and recording this track?
JS: From the writing session on Zoom to recording this at a vibey studio (Ganaraska Recording Co.) one of my long time friends (Jimmy Bowskill) owns, the whole experience was incredible. During the write we captured some melodic hooks that have a familiarity to old western films that got me excited about the song. That, and the edgy but sexy lyrical direction we took "Oughta Be Outlawed" in.
F: Both your country and rock roots were fostered in Canada. What is it like being a Canadian country artist?
JS: Being a Canadian singer/songwriter is amazing! Canada has such a supportive music scene and I am lucky to be a part of it.
F: Your talents as a songwriter have been lauded internationally. When did you start songwriting, and when did you know it was something you’d pursue professionally?
JS: I started songwriting as a kid but I always thought it was just something I had to do to be an artist. As I got more experienced writing songs with other people I started falling in love with the craft of writing songs. I wrote more and more with other writers and for other artists until I realized... "hey, I think I'm pretty good at this and could see this as a viable career path." That was about 5 years ago now and I have been fortunate enough to land a publishing deal in Nashville and I get to write with some pretty rad people daily.
F: What can fans expect from you this upcoming year (new releases, touring, etc)?
JS: There will definitely be some more songs coming that have that fit in the "Oughta Be Outlawed" vibe! I am super stoked for that!
"Oughta Be Outlawed" is available across streaming platforms now.