For a while now, Jerry Collins has operated as a kind of people’s poet, whose plainspoken prose has made records filled with his country-folk and pop tunes as simple as they are penetrating. Whether it’s a catalog touchstones or a fan favorites, Collins’ specialty has always been songs that sound like life—but somehow better—filled with nobility and the relatably profound. With his single, “Wings to Fly”, he doesn’t miss a beat, doling out material that highlight every facet of his still-underrated talent. His lyrics deliver a deeply moving, and somber moment when the wistful, sadly nostalgic melody sets in.
Collins’ usual word play is present and he comes up with some lines that make the listener stop, think and pay attention. Love, loss, faith and mortality are the themes running through this song’s playing time, which deals out a heartfelt narrative between a father and a dying son.
Jerry Collins doesn’t need much to make an impact – just a collaborative voice, some gentle strings and an acoustic guitar does it on “Wings to Fly”, where he demonstrates his simple sagacity. The song is full of lines and hooks that nestle in the head, with strains of both seriousness and pain which make you reflect. Here, as always, Collins’ most distinctive ideas come when he’s threading out some heartfelt story-line beyond its logical conclusion.
The choruses are as cathartic and catchy as they always are, and inevitably recall the melodic cadences and structures that have endured throughout his catalog. A common tactic of Collins’ is to pull the concepts of his verses ever closer to the topical thrust of the chorus. This helps his music feel more humble and unassuming.
In reality, Jerry Collins is a far more complex than he may usually be given credit for, and his insight is more formidable. His songs project a distinctly no-nonsense attitude, but they juxtapose poignant realism and thought provoking parables. His deepest observations and his most accessible lyrics are usually set to some of the most beautiful music.
There’s no prestige-seeking veneer to hide the homespun quality of this recording. Instead of surging brass, drums and choral sections, there is a voice, an acoustic guitar and hints of percussion and strings, courtesy of Collins’ collaborators. If this record wasn’t actually made in a living room, it could have been. The single’s slightly spontaneous and intimate quality perfectly channels the creative process behind it.