Cody Jinks has always built his career on his own terms. Drawing on his unique musical background—growing up near Fort Worth, Texas, he cut his teeth in bars and honky-tonks as well as the influential local metal scene— Jinks learned to disrupt the status quo with an industrious, do-it-yourself approach.

Out March 22, Change The Game reflects the notion that the rewards from working hard are great, especially when you’re staying true to your beliefs and vision. The album also marks a new chapter for Jinks, one driven by personal and professional growth.

“I’d say this is the most vulnerable record I’ve ever written,” he says of the new album. “Kind of a shedding of the skin for me.” Accordingly, Change The Game’s themes also look inward: holding themselves accountable for their flaws and bad behaviors—and taking responsibility for their actions with humility—to illustrate the idea that redemption is possible.

Jinks is no stranger to making changes in the name of self-improvement. Building on the momentum of the last few years—which has found him playing some of the largest venues of his career, ahead of a 2024 co-headlining tour with Turnpike Troubadours and opening for Luke Combs’ stadium tour—he is now independently managed. Jinks started taking better care of himself, including quitting cigarettes and drinking.

And he owns every note of his music: Change The Game is being released on his own label, Late August Records, which he recently launched as part of an unprecedented partnership with The Orchard.

Jinks wrote Change The Game with a group of trusted collaborators, including Adam Hood, Tennessee Jet, Bryan Martin and Josh Morningstar. “I don’t sit down with the thought of writing a record,” he says. “I’m a songwriter first. I’m constantly writing and co-writing with other people.” Some of these songs are nearly three years old; for example, Jinks tried to record Change The Game’s first single, “Outlaws & Mustangs”—the title comes from a line in the Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson film The Highwaymen—for 2021’s Mercy, but the timing wasn’t right. A smoldering, fiddle-driven rocker that ends with a gospel-soul harmonies, “Outlaws & Mustangs” embodies Change The Game’s independent streak; its lyrics champion rebels who choose an unorthodox life path because, in the end, they “always come home.”

However, Change The Game, which was co-produced by Jinks’ long-time bassist Josh Thompson and Ryan Hewitt, is cohesive, embodying what CMT calls Jinks’ “strong resolve and passionate, rock-styled country feel." The musician’s outlaw country spirit shines through via barnstorming rockers (“I Can’t Complain”), moodier fare (the organ-burnished “Always Running”), and a sparse, stripped-back introspection (“Sober Thing”). A twangy cover of Faith No More’s “Take This Bottle,” meanwhile, features smoky, bluesy guest vocals from PEARL.

Jinks and his band recorded Change The Game in several places, although the bulk of the album came together at MOXE, a secluded live-in studio on 20 acres of woods in Nashville. “I love being able to get out of bed and walk 10 seconds and be in the control room,” Jinks says, “or get out of bed, grab a guitar, get up early in the morning and go in and do some listening.

As with past albums, the recording process illustrated the chemistry Jinks has with his band. “The same guys who record the music as play on the shows,” he explains. “Our band has developed our sound. When we go in to make a record, it’s not, ‘What kind of record is this? What’s this gonna sound like?’ They know I want the happy songs to sound dark. They’ll know I want it heavy.”

From a creative standpoint, the studio was also an ideal environment for Jinks, as he wrote three songs (“The Working Man,” “I Can’t Complain” and “A Few More Ghosts”) on MOXE’s front porch. “It feels like a place that was build with great love and great intent by a musician,” he says. “And it was the right place for that group of sounds. I was very, very comfortable there, which helped a lot.” However, Change The Game acknowledges it isn’t always easy: The midtempo country song “A Few More Ghosts” depicts a protagonist plagued by regrets and bad decisions. “We were talking about ghosts and Bryan [Martin] said, ‘Man, I ain’t afraid of ghosts. I can handle them. It’s the demons that get me,” Jinks explains. “And then somebody goes, ‘Yeah, man, I could use a few more ghosts’—you know, not so many demons. And we were off to the races on that.”

Other songs confront the ups and downs of making a living in the music industry. The pedal steel-dominated “Deceiver’s Blues” is “almost making a joking reference about we gamble with our lives to do this for a living,” Jinks says. “We’re going to win it all or we’re going to lose it all.” Along those same lines, the sparse, folk-blues ballad “The Working Man” grew out of a conversation about the ways the music industry challenges artists. “The song’s talking about the sacrifices we make for it, but also that our families make,” Jinks says. “They have to deal with us dealing with this—and it’s hard. Sometimes it doesn’t seem worth it, though it almost always is.”

“One of the most beloved and successful independent voices in country music” (Wide Open Country), Jinks has amassed a loyal fanbase throughout his career, having sold over 2 million tickets to date. He’s also released ten full-length albums that regularly chart near the top of Billboard Country and Independent Albums charts, garnered 4+ billion streams across platforms and had eight songs certified RIAA Platinum or Gold, led by the double-platinum success of “Loud and Heavy.” In recognition of this hard work, Jinks was named Music Row’s 2023 Independent Artist of the Year—the second time he’s received this honor.

Jinks admits that there can be tradeoffs to overseeing so much of his career himself. But he’s built a strong team around him and figured out an efficient system to balance his creative and business sides. Perhaps even more important, Jinks is confident being completely independent is the right move for his career and family. It’s given him the ability to take more control over his own life and arrange his priorities around what matters.

“I’ve been married almost 20 years; my kids are getting older,” Jinks says. “My family was on the back burner for a long time when I was on the road. I often tell people, I met my kids when COVID hit. Now, I spend a great deal more time at home with my family, which is something I enjoy. I’m trying to grow into a better singer, a better songwriter and a better husband and father.”

Although Jinks is by no means resting on his laurels, he does allow himself to feel proud of all he’s accomplished—and disrupted—on Change The Game’s brisk title track. A classic Southern rocker with a foundation of galloping guitars and wiry pedal steel, he reminds the naysayers of his success before encouraging other younger artists to follow in his footsteps: “At the end of the day I can say/Go change the game/I changed the game.”

“With this record, a lot has changed with me personally and within my business life,” Jinks says. “There’s all the emotions in this record—happy, sad, scared, vulnerable and mad. And I’m all those things. It’s the most honest thing we’ve ever put out. I’m not saying that we started a movement or anything like that—but it’s a continuation of me trying to put a bigger flag in the ground and hopefully achieve bigger and bolder things moving forward.”

For more information, please contact Asha Goodman, Catherine Snead 615.320.7753 or Carla Sacks 212.741.1000 at Sacks & Co.