Cody Jinks spoke onstage Saturday of being in the studio when Chris Cornell died in May, and cutting a Soundgarden song as a tribute to the late rock singer.
“Disrupting” his ACL setlist, Jinks brought up singer-songwriter Paul Cauthen for a piano ballad duet of alternative radio standby “Black Hole Sun.” The melody soared, and fans on the dry Zilker Park field raised drinks in approval.
Jinks performs tatted, outlaw country about hangovers and the devil. It’s familiar and ambitious, served up with a five-piece backing band full of sluggers.
Wearing a black cowboy hat to match his black Johnny Cash T-shirt, aviator shades, and a long beard, the Denton, Texas, singer was closed off and masked Saturday at the Honda Stage. He told us he loves two kinds of people best: “hippies and cowboys,” which speaks to his affection for Austin.
His jukebox dive bar-ready, twang-accented ballads like “I’m Not the Devil” provided the reflective aid that bustling ACL attendees needed between fits of checking their phones.
Songs like “No Words” confessed to drinking too much, while “Been Around” confessed to… likewise being wasted. After almost two decades as a touring musician, the 37-year-old songwriter is flirting with crossover success and making Billboard chart dents. Last year’s “I’m Not the Devil” offered a heralded batch of everyman tunes.
Here the band was keyed in and automatic. Bearded side man Chris Claridy stepped in with restrained and effortless solos like a bartender serving up a well drink. Keyboard and steel guitar detours kept the mix lively and transfixing.
Jinks even rattled off a technical, pensive version of Pink Floyd epic “Wish You Were Here.” It was a subtle move: Covers are easy outs in front of mass audiences, but much like Sturgill Simpson’s country cover of When in Rome’s ’80s synth pop hit “The Promise,” these remixes are an internet-age admission: Jinks’ T-shirt may advertise a Cash concert from ‘68 at Folsom Prison, but in 2017 auteurs embrace their Spotify playlists and don’t mind sending one out to the lawn chairs.
“There’s a lot of you guys who don’t know who we are,” Jinks said, praising the gigs where he gets to play around “different kids of music.” Jinks wasn’t done: “That’s what this is all about, people.”