Returning to independent status after a swift sojourn at Rounder, Cody Jinks released two albums in two successive weeks in October 2019. After the Fire is the first of these, and it finds the Texas troubadour narrowing his scope from the propulsive, cinematic Lifers, which is something of a subtle irony, considering how it's been designed as part of a pair of albums. Taken on its own terms, After the Fire is a lean and slyly unassuming album, a collection that rolls along at its own easy pace. On the margins, there are a couple of songs that could be construed as casual throwaways: he revives "Think Like You Think," a song from his 2008 debut Collector's Item, emphasizing its debt to Randy Travis, and he closes the record with the Western Swing instrumental "Tonedeaf Boogie." These moments, along with swinging honky tonk numbers like "One Good Decision," give After the Fire room to breathe, letting such fragile ballads as "William and Wanda" and "Dreamed with One" settle gently. Jinks nimbly glides between the light and dark on After the Fire, never dwelling too long in either extreme, and that balance helps the album feel both modest and fully realized. It's too humble to be seen as a major statement, but its ease and craft are a testament to the depths of Jinks' talent as both a songwriter and a singer.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine