By Robyn Collins
Jon Pardi is a traditional country singer, raised in West Coast honky tonks. His latest record, California Sunrise, features classic melodies, blue-collar lyrics and authentic country instrumentation, complete with real drums, fiddles and the unmistakable twang of a steel guitar.
“There’s a growing audience for throwback [country],” Pardi says. “People want to hear somebody who really enjoyed the ‘90s country music era and brings that to 2016 country. A lot of this record is bringing an old-school flare back to a mainstream sound, but that gives me my own lane.”
Pardi’s 2014 debut album, Write You a Song, introduced him to the country crowd through his Top 10 party song “Up All Night.”
“I’ve been hitting the road steady for four years,” he says. “I’ve learned more about what the radio stations want, and I’ve learned what the fans want. It’s a whole different perspective on your second record, and I kind of took that perspective and put it into the 30-year-old me that loves recording music and loves writing.”
Pardi started writing songs by the age of 12 and was in his first band at 14. By 19, he knew Nashville was in his future. Once he arrived in Music City he found his way into Nashville’s songwriting community, where he applied a strong work ethic to music.
“Surround yourself with great people,” he says. “Find the best people to work with. You can learn a lot.”
He comes by his working-man’s spirit in an authentic way. Pardi is a middle-class son of a Northern California construction boss. “My dad was a super-hard worker,” Pardi explains. “Now, as a grown man I really appreciate that. The area I’m from is really blue-collar, agricultural, everybody’s working, everybody’s doing something in construction, something in farming. Everybody’s just working hard.”
Pardi has been working with songwriter Bart Butler, whose successes include Thomas Rhett’s “Make Me Wanna” and Bobby Pinson’s “Don’t Ask Me How I Know.” Butler is not only a frequent co-writer, but he’s also Pardi’s co-producer.
“Head Over Boots,” the first single from California Sunrise, is Pardi’s fastest-rising single to date. California Sunrise is currently available for pre-order and scheduled to drop on June 17.