When you read the history of the blues, you often hear about the guys who played for the Devil on Saturday night and played for Jesus on Sunday morning. The blues and gospel are two sides of the same impulse. The music is about coping with the hardships life throws your way. Jared Deck is that guy. He’s played in honky-tonks and mega churches. He’s got the gospel in his blues and the blues in his church. He’s the guy who goes down to the crossroads to see what ole Scratch is offering, and figures he can do as well on his own. On Bully Pulpit, Jared pulls years of playing dive bars and church socials together to preach his own gospel of keep on working through the bullshit.
“Money Back” is a stirring, gospel shouter about being betrayed by love and charlatan preachers. “Can I get a witness, can I get an amen, Can I get my money back from the girl who stole my heart?” “Great American Breakdown” sounds like something Bob Seger might have sung when he was still hanging out on Main Street with the hustlers. “True Believer” is sort of rousing praise song that bypasses the mind to the souls. It’s the sort of song that will have even a pagan clapping and dancing in the aisle. It’s the sort of song that reaches something beyond sectarian faith and just stirs even the most jaded and blackened soul.
The heart of Bully Pulpit is a country ballad, called “Make Your Mama Proud.” The song begins with a funeral. The narrator of the song wonders how he’s gonna raise a little girl and her baby brother as they bury her mother. It’s a song about overcoming adversity. The narrator never says how he managed things, only that the girl never lets the bad get her down. The song ends with another funeral. They’re burying her father. The girl is now 27 and has grown up to be a fine woman and the singer is proud that that she would have made her mother proud. The song is about the resilience of everyday people. It’s a song about hope. We can all use a dose of hope this day.