Premiere: Clay Parker and Jodi James Ponder the Blue & Winding Homespun Flow of “Nothing at All”

Clay Parker & Jodi James © Jodi James
Clay Parker & Jodi James © Jodi James
Louisiana-based Americana duo Clay Parker and Jodi James muse on the forlorn nature of rejection and missed opportunities on the breezy “Nothing at All,” presenting a groovier take on the classic singer-songwriter sound. 
“Nothing at All” – Clay Parker and Jodi James




There’s a certain kind of magic and refinement to the idea of music made minimally: In sparse rooms, with just two guitars and two voices harmonizing, flourishing off of each other’s energy. There’s a straightforwardness that belies the sophistication of a duo who have taken care to make each stark element stand on its own. When you can convey a sense of workmanship and mastery over your craft this way, there’s no need for frills or embellishments. Clay Parker and Jodi James capture this feeling with their genre-blending brand of sonic storytelling.

Nothing at All - Clay Parker and Jodi James
Nothing at All – Clay Parker and Jodi James

Atwood Magazine is proud to premiere the official music video for “Nothing At All” from Baton Rouge-based Americana duo Clay Parker and Jodi James. The track invokes the incendiary spirit of their very first collaborations, and the two musicians present a deftness of raw and genuine sound, delivering a poignant take on the classic acoustic, folky singer/songwriter structure.

This single comes from their upcoming second album, Your Very Own Dream, out January 19. “Nothing At All” encapsulates the feeling of driving along the rattle-gravel roads of some run-of-the-mill country town, existing in the liminal space between where you’re heading and where you’ve just been.

I see your eyes in passing cars
Photographs and crowded bars
In the blue blue sky
And in the black of night
And oh how the deal went ‘round and ‘round
‘Til somewhere all the dust settled down
And covered all the land
And all the trees
Clay Parker and Jodi James © Michael Tucker
Clay Parker and Jodi James © Michael Tucker



Clay Parker and Jodi James’ creative partnership spans back nearly a decade.

Before their artistic paths converged in Baton Rouge, the musicians roamed as lone troubadours, each developing their individual sound, before coming together in late 2014 after many long-distance co-writing collaborations. Their harmony resides in their ability to accord their own personalities while creating something fresh and continually evolving.

On “Nothing At All,” a soft drum beat buoys the guitars while James beautifully croons over missed connections and the regret that often accompanies them. Parker’s skillful solos evoke the soundtracking of a leisurely backroads sojourn; the song’s album artwork speaks to this sense of moving, ambulation, and motion, depicting a view of a night drive through an unfocused windshield, taillights, streetlights, and road signs just barely distinguishable. This muddled visage underscores the ambiguity of the lyrics.

I would’ve came
If you would’ve called
More of the same
Nothing at all
Oh nothing at all
So I’m playing all the same sad tunes
And then January turns to June
And all the winter coats
Are all boxed up
Clay Parker & Jodi James © Jodi James
Clay Parker & Jodi James © Jodi James



James tells Atwood Magazine, “I guess this song is about rejection and resolve. Rejection remembers… that old feeling was the muse for a healthy portion of my solo work and I wanted to revisit the melodrama of some of those older themes. The singer in this song is a hesitant one, and that push and pull to engage then withdraw became so perfectly palpable when Clay started playing those guitar lines. And our two voices are not singular sounding, but they move together with a healthy allowance of space between. We felt like it worked.”

The questions asked in the song’s second half illustrate the gravity of this push and pull, more like a hesitancy, vacillating between a refusal and a resolution.

Is there no trace left behind?
Is it gone, beyond all space and time?
I watched it spin and spin
For years on end
Clay Parker and Jodi James © Michael Tucker
Clay Parker and Jodi James © Michael Tucker



As noted by Wide Open Country, Clay Parker and Jodi James are “an example of two capable solo acts combining forces to discover new ways to celebrate regional roots sounds while creating something markedly modern.”

Even while having shelved the traditional acoustic arrangements of their previous releases, The Lonesomest Sound That Can Sound (2018), and their self-titled debut EP (2016), the result is equal parts plaintive folk existentialism and fever-dream ballad with a healthy serving of blues sensibility.

Your Very Own Dream - Clay Parker and Jodi James
‘Your Very Own Dream’, Clay Parker and Jodi James’ sophomore album, is out January 19, 2024!

To that effect, Parker tells Atwood, “We knew from the get-go that we wanted to record [“Nothing At All”] with a groove, which is not very typical for us. We rarely write our duo songs without at least a little bit of collaboration, but “Nothing At All” is one that Jodi had completely finished before she brought it to me. We were recording a few tunes for [Your Very Own Dream] at Ryan Tharp’s studio in Fort Worth with Clint Kirby (drums) and Dave Hinson (bass), and this is the first one we cut together. Those guys immediately locked into the sound we were hearing all along.”

Some rags will wash out clean
You just throw ‘em in this big machine
And everything is new
And bright again
I would’ve came
If you would’ve called
More of the same
Nothing at all
Oh nothing at all
Clay Parker & Jodi James © Jodi James
Clay Parker & Jodi James © Jodi James

Parker and James seem just as at home on festival stages or under theater lights as they are in intimate listening rooms or concert houses, and they instinctively adjust their dynamic to fit the occasion.

The song’s music video reflects this clever simplicity. They walk into the room, unlatch their guitar cases, plug into their amps, and begin. Closeups of the two provide a bit of intimacy for the viewer, and gives something immediately personable, like you’re really getting to know them. They sit face to face while they play, less of a confrontation and more of a melding of the minds. This setup evokes the feeling of two kindred spirits riffing off one another: unadorned and uncomplicated, completely zeroed in on the storytelling.

Your Very Own Dream is out January 19, 2024, you can pre-save the album here. Watch and stream “Nothing At All” exclusively on Atwood Magazine!

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:: pre-save Your Very Own Dream here ::
:: connect with Clay Parker & Jodi James here ::
“Nothing at All” – Clay Parker and Jodi James



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? © Jodi James

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