8 Jelly Roll Songs You Have to Hear

5 April 2023 | 12:44 pm | Staff Writer

Jelly Roll's forthcoming album 'WHITSITT CHAPEL' drops June 2.

(Image: Supplied)

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Born and raised Jason DeFord in Nashville’s Antioch neighbourhood, it was rap and hip-hop that called to Jelly Roll as a child growing up. His deeply personal lyrics and music blends old-school rap, classic rock, country and soul that is therapeutic, raw and tackles the heaviness in life.

Since 2010, the genre-bending singer-songwriter has released an impressive number of albums, EPs and projects and seen him collaborate with the likes of Lil Wyte, Struggle Jennings, Yelawolf, Tech N9ne and Ryan Upchurch, among others.

2020 saw a paradigm shift (a word he uses frequently with good reason) in Jelly Roll’s career. He credits the release of Save Me from his Self Medicated album as the point in his career where he started to actually sing. 2021’s Ballads of the Broken album saw Son of a Sinner hit the hard rock and alternative songs chart and was most added song on country radio at its debut at the same time.

It’s his personal and musical history that makes Jelly Roll such an interesting artist to watch. Here’s 8 Jelly Roll songs you HAVE to hear!

1. Son Of A Sinner

Earlier this week, Jelly Roll blazed the CMT Music Awards winning three of his nominations – the most awards given to a single artist in 2023 – ‘Male Video of the Year’, ‘Breakthrough Male Video of the Year’ and ‘CMT Digital-First Performance of the Year’ for his breakout single, Son of a Sinner.

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“I want you to know that I don’t know what you’re going through and I don’t know what you’ve been through, but I know you can overcome it [and] I promise you, you can…and you can be whatever you want to be, I promise you that,” he said during his award speech. “I told them I wanted to be a country music singer and I’m standing here at the CMT Awards with the Male Video Of The Year, baby. When God got something for you, nothing can get him away.”

2. Need A Favor

Jelly Roll performed Need A Favor at the 2023 CMT Music Awards backed by a full band and gospel choir – not exactly something you’d typically see at a country music awards show – but it works. The track’s lyrics flashed behind him: ““I only talk to God when I need a favour / And I only pray when I ain’t got a prayer / So, who the hell am I, who the hell am I / To expect a Savior, oh / If I only talk to God when I need a favour / But God, I need a favour / Amen, amen.”

The song details the story of a character who turns to prayer as he’s trying to convince his love interest to stick around. He realises that he doesn’t necessarily deserve the favour, but he’s willing to do whatever it takes at this defining moment in his life.

3. Son Of The Dirty South with Brantley Gilbert

Brantley Gilbert and Jelly Roll's Son of the Dirty South is a tribute to their southern roots, and the music video features the two artists performing in front of a giant Confederate flag.

“I had a blast working on this one with Jelly,” Gilbert said. “We’ve been itching to write together for a while now, and we had a lot of fun putting it together. You don’t always get to record a song with your co-writers, so to hop in the studio with him too was a real treat.”

4. Save Me 

Save Me is a song of acknowledgment, a vulnerable expression of personal insecurities that gained Jelly Roll a Gold certification from the RIAA and over 65 million views on YouTube. The ballad propelled him into a Rock and Country sphere and explored a more melodic songwriting style, unlike everything he created before.

He said on YouTube, “This one is a little bit of a curveball for me. I don't usually do these stripped down acoustic videos, but writing this song made me feel something and I felt y'all needed some insight into the more vulnerable side of the music business.”

5. She

She brings home the addition crisis currently facing America, Jelly Roll shared. He partnered with Shatterproof to help people find the support and help they need. From his forthcoming album WHITSITT CHAPEL, which drops on June 2, She was released in December 2022.

“This album is about growth and gratitude happening in my life. I wanted to create a project that felt hopeful. I believe the worst feeling a person can have is feeling hopeless or worthless. This is therapeutic music. Real music for real people with real problems,” Jelly Roll shared in a statement.

6. Tears Could Talk with Bailee Ann

Jelly Roll said, “Proud dad moment today. We just dropped the video for the song Tears Could Talk featuring my daughter Bailee Ann. She wrote this verse all by herself, and getting to share her story and shoot this video is means so much to me I am getting emotional just typing this post. Please share this video for Bailee and myself, and we hope it helps somebody somewhere.”

7. Jail Performance

As someone who spent time in and out of jail before launching his music career, recently Jelly Roll performed for inmates at the jail where he once did time. In the video, he enters the cell block with Brantley Gilbert, Struggle Jennings and others.

The video features a caption that reads, "This wasn't for a music video or anything like that. Jelly Roll went back to the jail he did time in and performed for the inmates. This was such an amazing thing to watch. I'm truly happy for you brother."

In a December interview, Jelly Roll revealed that he spent three-and-a-half-years at the juvenile detention centre as a teenager before being charged as an adult for a crime he committed in his youth. It is also the place he began making music.

8. Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash Cover)

Jelly Roll performed one take of the Johnny Cash classic, Folsom Prison Blues with a modern and tasteful twist. The video was released in 2015 and was the first taste of his potential in country music.


Keep up to date with Jelly Roll on his Facebook page here.