(MONTCLAIR, NJ) -- New Jersey based singer/songwriter Jason Didner has completed a rock album of songs intended to spark conversations on mindfulness, connection and self-care. “This prolonged period of pandemic has challenged us all to pay closer attention to our mental health,” Jason offered. “I’ve been absorbing every TED talk and podcast I could, and found this way of expressing all I’ve learned in song.”
Jason encountered lyrical inspiration in what he learned in TED talks by Dr. Wendy Suzuki and Dr. Stephen Hayes, as well as in podcasts like “The Happiness Lab” and “Ten Percent Happier.” The songs encourage paying attention to the behavior of distorted thoughts, recognizing them for what they are. They also urge greater connection, gratitude and kindness. The songs also get specific in encouraging scientifically proven forms of self care like journaling, exercise and meditation.
Musically, the album ranges from the Jersey Shore sound, conjuring up images of E Street, to guitar-driven hard rock, to sun-soaked reggae, to folk-tinged singer-songwriter selections. The artist drew upon his love for the music of Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Bob Marley, Billy Joel, Elvis Costello, The Smithereens, The Beatles and James Taylor.
“The Van Halen influence has been with me the longest,” said Jason, reflecting on his origins as a lead guitarist. “I was 16 when I went to my first rock concert - Van Halen on the 5150 tour. After watching Eddie shred, I was determined to become a lead guitarist.” More recently, Eddie’s son Wolfgang Van Halen made an impression on Jason with his completely solo debut album “Mammoth WVH” in which Wolf played all the instruments himself. “This inspired me to learn the drums and record my songs completely on my own like Wolf,” Jason explained. “Drumming is my budding new pandemic skill.”
The album also features a few collaborations, as have all of Jason’s past releases. Michigan-based drummer Fred E. Jam provided an evocative drum track on “Battle,” in which a military drumbeat crescendos to signify growing anger and frustration. Jason’s father Bob provided a poem about their shared interest in cycling that yielded the lyrics for “Super Clean Escape Machine,” a song that extolls the many benefits of riding a bike, including a mental health boost. Acclaimed writer Nita Sweeney, author of the memoir “Depression Hates a Moving Target,” co-wrote a lyric with Jason for “A Different Kind of Zen,” a song that urges the listener to write freely without stopping to criticize what you’re putting down on paper. This applies to writing practice as taught by Nita’s mentor Natalie Goldberg, as well as to journaling, a scientifically-proven tool to improve mental health.
“Salt and Sand: Rock Songs to Heal the Mind” becomes available in digital format on Friday, February 4 for streaming or download in all major streaming services and Bandcamp. Jason will give an album launch concert at Live Streamer Cafe the same evening at 7:30pm, performing every song in album order. Admission will be free; digital album purchases are appreciated. Jason will donate 20% of that night’s proceeds to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Singles and videos already released from this album include “Salt and Sand”, “Because I’m Grateful,” “Battle,” “Run With My Troubles,” “A Moment of Loving Kindness” and “Distorted.”
Jason has found success, radio airplay and critical acclaim in the past with his two albums for children and families with his band “Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam” as well as with his track “You Can’t Get There from Here in Jersey.” In response to the societal shock of 9/11/2001, Jason had released an album “American Road” to spark conversation about the paradox of our becoming initially more united and then more fearful and mistrusting. “I had recorded ‘American Road’ in my tiny apartment. I programmed the drum tracks in the recording software I was using at the time.”