There are many facets to the diamond that is Jacki Stone, perhaps too many for one genre to bear. So in pioneer fashion, she has created a radically authentic genre of her own. Her sounds of “California Country” contain elements of country, folk, and raw southern rock, but its distinct flavor is rooted in Jacki herself. To label her would be to generalize and ‘water down’ her diverse creative strengths.
This is no easy task for an artist who’s fresh on the world stage, but Stone’s natural toughness bears the weight of her talent with finesse and tenacity.
“I’ve had it from the cradle,” Stone says of her love for music. “… My father says that I was singing before I could talk.”
Through music, Jacki has overcome setbacks with humor and grit. Her biggest challenge, she recalls, has been the journey of blending that inner voice with her artistry. “Allowing myself to just be okay with who I am as an artist is probably the hardest thing I had to go through,” she says. Stone now comfortably weaves her unique sound with the rebellious qualities that set her apart.
For her newest release, “Like Hell It’s Yours”, Stone collaborated with renowned A&R/producer, Michael Caplan, “[Michael] was just…like, ‘okay, who are you?’ And he has just let me bloom and blossom,” she says. Michael connected with her dual passions for writing and music. “I’m not a big fan of what today’s Country music has turned into and after listening to just the raw tracks that Jacki played for me, I knew right away that she was a writer, a performer, just the real thing in all aspects. Not just a song, but a fully realized artist.”
They enlisted the help of renowned Grammy award-winning artist Keb’Mo, and a list of amazing musicians to be able to realize the vision that Jacki had for this release including original songs and under the radar cover songs, such as Warren Haynes’ “On a Real Lonely Night.”
Stone’s lyrics plunge through the depths of her struggle and project clarity from the other side. In Crazy Man, the song she co-wrote with Keb’ Mo,’ Stone penetrates the darkness of mental illness with refreshingly light-hearted tones. That hint of space between contradictions is where Stone truly shines. Keb’Mo put it this way: “I had the pleasure of working with Jacki Stone and she ain’t playin around. Watch out world.”
‘Like Hell It's Yours, released in late spring, beautifully frames Stone’s originals with a few cover songs. ’Country as Fuck’ and ’Victims of Comfort’ are striking choices. “When I do covers, I look for the forgotten wonders” Stone says. “I look for how the song makes me feel. Do I get chills? Do the lyrics pull me into the emotion of the song? … It has to be honest and raw like the rest of the album.”
Her first single, “Slow Down Easy is a song about taking a step back…and choosing to go with the flow,” she says. “It is also a loose reference to recovery, and learning to surrender. I have learned through my own experiences that it is best to live my life that way.”
For Stone, the relationship between music and recovery runs deep. As an eating disorder survivor and recovering alcoholic., Stone is a committed advocate. “When we heal ourselves…we help [others] heal,” she says. “I feel that music can help. Whether that’s a teenager listening to the radio because it’s the only sanity he has, or someone in recovery from an addiction, and they have that one song that can keep them from relapsing.”
“I won’t put a song out unless I feel and believe what I’m singing,” Stone says. “I was able to just be 100% myself and authentic with this album. It’s a little bit more on the gentle side – which is, I think where I’m more inclined to head. I like the feel-good songs and I love to rock, but I also love the gentle side and the sad side.”
Her first major musical influence was Freddie Mercury of Queen. As a toddler, she would beg her mother to play “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and would skip cartoons in favor of watching CMT “for hours on end.” When she was nine, Jacki’s parents took her to a Carole King concert. It was The Living Room tour, in which King dazzled listeners with a personal glimpse of the artist at home. “That night, I realized that I wanted to be a songwriter as well as a singer,” Stone says. “Carole King is THE writer that I aspire to be.” Stone marries King’s approachable songwriting style with Mercury’s explosive stage presence.
“In today’s world, there is war and strife, pain and suffering…” she says. “But there is also beauty and love, community and joy, and I believe that people truly care about the struggles in this world.” Jacki Stone’s upbeat, tender sounds balance real-world pains with an honest hope.
In an industry fueled by trends, Stone’s truth is a rarity she’s prepared to protect. “If I try something and I feel it’s not true to me, I’ll put my foot down,” she says. “I won’t be an ass about it, but I’m not afraid to try… I’ve learned to pick my battles.”