“Shine Eye Landing” by Billy Jeter
Billy Jeter takes you down a personal history tour of love, life, and family with his album Shine Eye Landing. It’s his first major release since 2019’s house of fire and his craft has never been so on point. For those country fans who are looking for something with a little bit more of a vintage sound, look no further.
A third-generation Arkansan coming from a family of various eclectic arts, Jeter’s first foray into music was not without its first album growing pains. You can tell his heart is always present in his work and in his previous work, the heart often made up for technical snafu’s. Here, now a veteran, he’s surpassed any and all hiccups to deliver a painfully honest look at tenderness that starts off with the downbeat if not jaunty look with “Orion”. You can tell he’s certainly a big fan of the likes of Bob Dylan, not just because he’s been a vocal advocate, but also because his lyricism runs on the deliberately vague side. With some song exceptions that are more decidedly clear in their intentions and themes, there are just as many songs like the aforementioned Orion that feel more like mood pieces.
This isn’t a bad thing because it allows many of the songs to be enjoyed as they are in addition to flowing into one another seamlessly on the album. Gears are switched almost immediately with the titular “Shine Eye Landing”, and if I did have a semi critique, it’s that I would have switched the order of the first two tracks. Shine Eye Landing obviously acts as the thesis point for his exploration of the past and the textures weaved by his particular brand of storytelling. It’s about nostalgia, and it’s serene and not without its darkness, but it’s also a more inviting song. I’m not sure if this was because making a more dark entrance is often confused for being a more “mature” intro, but it’s a slight nitpick.
“That’s Just the Way We Roll”, a little ditty that’s as self-explanatory as its name implies gives a spotlight to his love of his family by way of the many generations that have lived before them and the family rituals that are just commonplace now. Because its also decidedly more upbeat sounding, it does add a little more credence to my issue with the placement of Orion, and the happiness “Way We Roll” exudes is just infectious with the kind of meat and potatoes instrumentals utilized of your basic strings and steady if not invisible drum beat. Jeter’s voice is more performative than a flawless example of melodies.
It doesn’t sound pretty, but it’s aged and luckily isn’t a voice I’d describe as “growing on you”. It evokes the feelings of campfire stories from an innocent age while also paving a look into what the future could hold. Shine Eye Landing only improves as the album proceeds and it’s certainly a landing pad I can’t recommend enough to anyone.