Kody's Country Review - J.R. Carroll - Long Story Short – DBPC

Kody's Country Review - J.R. Carroll - Long Story Short

J.R. Carroll  - Long Story Short
Review by Kody McDowell

photo courtesy of Tom Harris


If you haven’t heard the name J.R. Carroll yet, you’ve been missing out. The up and coming country music star recently released his first five-track EP titled Long Story Short. Stripped down to Carrol’s vocals and guitar, substance over style is at the forefront of this self written EP. The compilation contains tremendous heartfelt lyrics carried perfectly by J.R.’s unique vocals and the blissfully unpretentious production of Colton Jean

Carroll, like many country crooners, got his musical start on the church piano. This helped hone in his soft lyrically poignant style for stages beyond the pulpit. It was a year and a half ago J.R. started writing songs for this moment.. His inspirations were molded from young artists like Zach Bryan and Tyler Childers to the more seasoned Willie Nelson and Townes Van Zandt. It is no wonder he has created such a phenomenal EP. It should be noted that Carroll is a vocal and instrumental contributor to upcoming Zach Bryan releases.

The first track on the EP is Stay.


Right off the bat you immediately hear those unique vocals worth raving about. J.R. 's belting, soulful sound is tied so perfectly with his guitar that it creates one Hell of a love lost song painfully tugging at one’s heartstrings. The chorus “Are you dancin’ with another lonely drifter or are you spinnin’ on your own'' has that “What Are You Listening To” effect. J.R. and his lone guitar send home that feeling of desperate loneliness to perfection.

Never was Mine holds a much more grounded “country” sound and the lyrics are of a subject matter familiar to us all. Certainly a worthy addition to the over-all E.P.

In the interview with Carroll, he told me his favorite song to perform live is Waiting. Man I can’t wait to witness that! This song has a fantastic opening and a chorus that I absolutely Love. Bold and mighty is how I would describe the lyrics ``I may hurt right now, but I sure won’t care when I’m high!” Carroll’s writing has a highlighting effect on character defect. As listeners we often hear the one-sided stories that only describe loss with vague remorse associated with heartbreak. Carroll however, puts dysfunction at the center using the fight that ended it all as a means to bringing the story home.

The eerie intro into Rocky Ford instantly puts one in an uncomfortable feeling of sadness. It has a familiar aesthetic to Colter Wall’s Kate McCannon but instead of a murder ballad, Carroll turns it on it’s head and kills the song’s balladeer. This creates a more exciting experience typical of the genre.

Where the Red Fern Grows minor key will fool you. This is an upbeat piece about a young girl’s struggles to be successful in (what I assume) a music career. This particular song is a complex tune in terms of the characters. Carroll told me that this song was actually written about his niece’s struggles in softball. 

Long Story Short is just a taste of the amazing talent that this young man possesses. I would place this in a country/Americana genre.

You can catch the Death Before Pop Country show J.R Carrol at The Mercury Lounge, Tulsa on February 22, 2021 where he will open for Ritch Henderson. He will also then open for Tanner Usrey at The Tumbleweed in Stillwater Oklahoma February 27th.

Long Story Short

  • Stay
  • Never Was Mine
  • Waiting
  • Rocky Ford
  • Where the Red Fern Grows

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