Song of the Week

Song of the Week: “(Kissed You) Good Night”


I’ve had this song stuck in my head for days. It has the classic country storyline of yearning for that crush in the eyes of both the guy and the girl and the video brings the tale to life for the listener.


The lead single off Gloriana’s sophomore release, A Thousand Miles Left Behind due in stores Tuesday, is a personal and relatable track and was inspired by real life for one of the band members.


“A lot of the songs on the album are written from the point of view of the person I would like to be,” Tom Gossin said. “’Like on ‘(Kissed You) Good Night,’ my alter ego comes in and does what I’m afraid to do in real life. It’s ultimately a song about not ending up with regrets because the worst thing is to look back on something and think, ‘I wish I had done things differently.’”


The trio’s latest hit recalls another three member country act — Lady Antebellum. With their alternating male/female lead vocals and memorable harmonies the single continues to climb it’s way up the charts. If “(Kissed You) Good Night” is any indication of the band’s upcoming album, it will no doubt be a solid release. I’ll be interviewing Gloriana next week so be sure to let me know if you have any questions and leave them in the comments!



I’ll be interviewing Gloriana next week so be sure to let me know if you have any questions and leave them in the comments!

Features Q&A

James Valentine On Maroon 5′s Racy Lyrics

(credit: Jeffrey Staab)


It’s no secret that Maroon 5′s songs are filled with suggestive lyrics. In fact, their latest release Overexposed features a parental advisory on the cover for explicit content.


Guitarist James Valentine admits he’s more reserved than frontman Adam Levine and explained just why he doesn’t mind taking the backseat during concerts and interviews and why Adam’s the perfect man for the job.


“Adam loves just to make people uncomfortable, that’s kind of one of his things,” Valentine confessed. “That’s just a part of his personality. That’s a lead singer sort of thing. That sort of charisma or fearlessness is necessary to be out there in front of the band and to sell those songs.”



For my complete interview, visit CBS.

Song of the Week

Song of the Week: “More In Love With You”


I stumbled upon Jason Reeves’ latest music video last week and instantly fell in love. Light acoustic guitar and delicate strokes of the guitar blend perfectly with his soft vocals. Nelly Joy’s guest vocals only add to the beautiful ballad. I have a feeling this will wind up as a wedding song for many couples. What do you think?


Related Links:
Q&A: with Jason Reeves
Jason Reeves Talks SXSW
Artist You Should Know: Jason Reeves
The Vespa Experiment Recap
Song of the Week

Song of the Week: “45”


Last month, hundreds of dedicated fans of New Jersey punk band the Gaslight Anthem waited outside of Asbury Park’s The Stone Pony for their chance to be in the band’s music video for “45.”


Avid fans are often willing to camp out for days to meet their favorite band and Gaslight Anthem didn’t take this lightly. So, they decided to treat fans to an hour concert in addition to the music video shoot.


“We’re going to do ‘45’ about a million times but we’re going to mix it up with some other songs too so just bear with us,” said Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon to fans during the band’s music video shoot. “You suffer a little today and then you get yourself in a video forever!”


For my complete behind-the-scenes take of their music video shoot visit CBS.



You Sing I Write’s June Wrap-Up


Photo Credit: Jeffrey Staab


While being a music journalist certainly sounds like a glamorous job to many, it’s also a lot of work. Many times bands are scheduled for numerous interviews and performances in one day and with that, undoubtedly asked the same questions. My goal as an interviewer has always been to ask the artist a question they’ve never been asked before.


I still remember stumping Lady Antebellum during an interview in 2010. Their nearly minute of silence was instant success to me. To be able to ask the country trio a question they were never asked before during the height of their “Need You Now” popularity put a big smile on my face. It meant that I did my job and accomplished my goal after hours of research.


When I first started my job at CBS I was still new at video interviews. To have a crew of video staff and publicists watching your interview as it happened is intimidating and having an artist connect with you in a room full of people is not an easy task.


One of the video producers saw my nerves and offered some advice: just make it a conversation. For some reason I let my nerves get the best of me and forgot that eased conversations often make the best interviews. I told my boss that my goal for myself at the company was to have great interviews that make the artist want to come back and chat with us again.



My first interview this month was with Colbie Caillat. An artist I’ve already interviewed twice, she was the first interview in a long time that I wasn’t nervous about. The beach beauty felt like an old friend and she filled me in on surviving a bug attack onstage, how she makes touring feel like home and her friendship with Gavin DeGraw.


Last week, I found out that I’d be interviewing Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine. After joking with my co-workers about trying to recall the last time we used a payphone when listening to their hit single “Payphone,” I knew I had to ask him the same question.


Still trying to implement the idea of making my interviews more like a conversation with a friend, I was a bit nervous but determined to make it work. Having seen Maroon 5 perform the night before I at least had a few good conversation starters. As the interview went on I found my questions fitting seamlessly into the interview with no internal dialogue of “what am I going to ask next?”



By far my favorite interview to date, James Valentine took me behind-the-scenes of his writing process with Adam Levine, how he came to join the band, and of course the last time he used a payphone. This was the first interview I’ve had in a long time that really felt like a conversation with distinct connection.


The next day I chatted with singer-songwriter Tristan Prettyman whose new album Cedar and Gold drops in September. Formerly engaged to fellow singer Jason Mraz, the album was deemed a breakup album. Reading over all the press material, I wasn’t sure exactly how I’d bring up the elephant in the room, but everything was stated pretty clearly in the press release so I wouldn’t be a good journalist if I didn’t.


I spent the commute to work and my entire morning listening to the album and was struck by Tristan’s honesty. The record was so incredibly emotional and the heartbreak so real that it instantly brought to mind Adele’s ever popular 21.



The more we talked about the album and her relationship, the closer I came to having to bring up his name. So, I asked if she was nervous to have Jason listen to the album and she revealed that she sent him a few tracks and he responded, remarking at the fact that she didn’t hold anything back.


As Tristan continued to talk about the songs and her relationship she started to tear up and while I wasn’t quite sure whether to keep asking questions, I figured if she felt that uncomfortable she’d let me know. We continued the interview and I was so grateful for her honesty. Writing songs is often like writing in one’s diary and she shared so much of her process and the stories behind her songs with me. After our interview, I have no doubt her upcoming release will help a lot of people deal with their own heartbreaks. And that in itself is often the goal for a songwriter.


As far as my future interview goals, while I definitely don’t strive to make anyone cry from the questions I ask them, I hope I do allow them to feel comfortable enough to let their guard down for a moment. I know it’s not always the best idea to be friends with rock stars, but building a 30 minute friendship during our interview can’t hurt, can it?

Features News Q&A

Colbie Caillat Reflects On Bug Attack: “I Was Seriously Traumatized”


It’s not something any musician wants to experience. Colbie Caillat was upstaged by some unwanted guests while at her Pittsburgh tour stop: mayflies.


Currently on tour with Gavin DeGraw and Andy Grammer, Colbie recalled the night’s events.


“I was seriously traumatized. I was performing in Pittsburgh and during my set all of a sudden there were these bugs, they’re called mayflies. They come out I guess one week a year,” she said. “When the lights went up on my lighting rig they all went directly to the light. Thousands of them. Having thousands of them hitting you is scary.”


For my complete article visit CBS.

CD Reviews

Album Review: Matthew Mayfield’s “A Banquet For Ghosts”


Singer-songwriter Matthew Mayfield is back with his latest release A Banquet For Ghosts. His most personal release to date, Mayfield raised $17,000 to record the album via Pledge Music by selling handwritten lyrics, messages in whiskey bottles and signed guitars to his fans. The standout album reveals Mayfield’s sensitive side as he sings of lost love, relationships gone wrong and his search for answers.


“We burned away a lot of the distractions and it’s just very raw and pure and honest,” he said of the recording process.


The LP begins with the emotional “Ain’t Much More to Say.” The song tells the tale of a returning lover who has made an unwanted appearance. Mayfield’s rustic vocals are at the forefront of the track and accompanied by delicate acoustic guitar, gentle strokes of the piano and wavering pedal steel.



“Take What I Can Get” picks up the pace with Mayfield’s inner dialogue displayed throughout the track. A song he cites as the most triumphant on the record it continues to take the listener on a journey. Meanwhile, the standout “Track You Down” brings together multiple genres showcasing Mayfield’s versatility. A blend of roots, blues, country and rock, foot-stomping percussion combines with striking string features. All the while his raspy vocals only add to the track. The song transforms Mayfield from simply a singer-songwriter to a major force to reckon with.


Next song, “Heart In Wire” further demonstrates this. As he alternates from a wounded whisper to a guttural growl it’s easy to feel the pain within the song. Violin parts rise and fall at the most opportune moments and further exemplify the poignant number.



The heartbreaking “I Don’t Know You At All” follows suit while title track, the stripped down “A Banquet For Ghosts” continues the somber tone. As the emotive “Beautiful” and “Safe & Sound” close the LP it’s uncertain whether or not Mayfield found what he was looking for but he hopes his listeners have a different experience.


“I want to be that record in your ears. I want to be the sound of something that’s soothing but also something that’s really heartfelt and honest,” he said.


With such a solid release, Mayfield will no doubt succeed in this.


To purchase the album visit iTunes. To learn more about Matthew Mayfield, visit his Website.


Related Links:
Q&A with Matthew Mayfield
Artist of the Week: Matthew Mayfield
Matthew Mayfield Debuts New Video, Plus Free Track
CMJ 2010: Five Artists to Watch


Photo of the Week: Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson


I’m getting a bit nostalgic for Nashville and CMA Fest. Thousands of country music fans will descend onto Nashville this week for the annual festival. For four days and four nights bands will perform all over the city and fans will get to meet their favorite country artists. It’s unlike any festival I’ve ever been to and by far my favorite. Here’s a photo of Kelly Clarkson’s surprise appearance with Jason Aldean at LP Field last year to perform their hit single “Don’t You Wanna Stay.”

Song of the Week

Song of the Week: “Favorite Song”


I’ve been following Colbie Caillat’s career for five years now. In fact, she was the first artist I featured on You Sing I Write back in October of 2007. My cousin introduced me to her earlier that summer and living in California he first learned about the “Bubbly” singer from MySpace. Years later she found herself touring with John Mayer, which she later admitted to me in an interview “I’m kind of freaking out!”


After winning several Grammy’s and traveling on her own headlining tour, Caillat is still churning out the hits. Her latest single “Favorite Song” is the perfect summer jam. Featuring Common on guest vocals, the duo impress with a laid-back vibe and catchy chorus.



I’ll be interviewing Colbie tomorrow for CBS. If there’s anything you want to know, be sure to leave your questions in the comments. Meanwhile, watch my video interview with her from 2010 below.



Features News

You Sing I Write’s May Wrap-Up


It’s hard to believe that I’ve been writing this blog for nearly five years now. What started as a mere creative outlet has transformed into steady freelance work and a stable job doing what I love — writing about music and interviewing bands. I never would have predicted the start of You Sing I Write would develop into what it has today and further my career as a music journalist but every day I’m continually grateful.


This past month has by far been the most exciting of my career and every week I woke up in disbelief that things could get any better. I’ll explain to you just why in this post’s May wrap-up which includes interviewing Darius Rucker, covering my first music video shoot with Gaslight Anthem and meeting John Mayer.


Darius Rucker


Early in the month I got word that I’d be interviewing Darius Rucker for CBS. In order to understand my complete excitement I have to take you way back to the summer of 2009 when my love for country music began. My best friends Wendy and Deana had been talking about visiting Nashville for quite some time. It just so happened that every June the city of Nashville is transformed into country music heaven as thousands of fans and artists descend on the city for the CMA Music Fest, what used to be known as Fan Fair.


For four days country music fans are treated to live performances and exclusive meet-and-greets with their favorite country artists. The three of us booked our flight and festival package and I wound up covering the nightly press conference and days events for Marie Claire. An outsider to country music, it was also my first time attending a press conference. While I knew the major artists like Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts and Reba, each night I was introduced to new acts. My first night in the press conference was intimidating to say the least. Not an exceptionally outgoing person, I soon learned that in order to get your question in you usually had to yell out to the artist onstage. The first artist in the room was Darius Rucker. The Hootie & the Blowfish frontman recently released his debut country album and would be performing on the main concert stage later that night.



Being my first time in the press room I kept raising my hand in hopes to get my question answered. When the last question was asked and the publicist started to usher him off the stage he pointed in my direction. “You’ve been so patient this whole time,” he said. “What’s your question?” After looking around and realizing he was talking to me I was shocked and thankful to be given a second of his time. So, I asked him how his Hootie fans have reacted to his leap into country music and he told me they’ve embraced and supported his career in country music. Still stunned he pointed me out in the crowd I instantly knew country would become my new favorite genre.


So, early this month I finally was able to interview Darius one-on-one about his career, writing process, transition into country music and what it’s like working with Lionel Richie. I also filled him in on the fact that he’s pretty much the reason I decided to start covering country music and he actually remembered that time in the press room nearly three years ago. You can watch two of my video interviews with him here and here.


Gaslight Anthem


This interview was also a long time coming. I actually used to work with drummer Benny Horowitz of New Jersey’s Gaslight Anthem in college. While attending Rutgers University I was Features Editor for the college paper, The Daily Targum. As editor, one night a week I had to proofread the whole paper before it was sent to the printer. Benny was the Night Pro editor and always talked about the bands he was in. Little did I know a few years later he’d be sharing the stage with Bruce Springsteen and touring the world.


In 2008 during my internship at Rolling Stone I was flipping through the magazine and was in shock when I saw Benny’s band featured as a Breaking Artist. At first I didn’t think it was him, but sure enough once I read the photo caption and contacted all my former co-workers I realized it 100% was him. For four years I tried interviewing the band for various publications but for some reason it just never worked out. My friends would always joke with me that I could interview Taylor Swift and Pat Benatar but not Benny, who I actually knew.


Flash forward to last month. My boss tells me, “This next email is going to make your day.” Truthfully, I thought it might be John Mayer related. When I read it I gasped and said, “I love you!” Turns out Gaslight Anthem were filming the music video to new single “45” at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park and she wanted me to cover the video shoot. This is the band I’ve been listening to for years and determined to interview one way or another and now I’d be able to hang out with them at their music video shoot — something I’ve had on my bucket list for years — and interview them!



I’ll be posting my music video recap in a few weeks once the video is released but being behind-the-scenes was truly a dream come true. While I learned video shoots aren’t as glamorous as I had previously thought (a lot of waiting around and continuous re-takes) it was still cool to be backstage and witness the excitement the fans had for being part of the live concert element of the video.


Afterward, I interviewed Benny and frontman Brian Fallon and found out some facts no magazine feature could ever reveal. Truthfully, personally knowing someone who followed his dreams even in the midst of countless obstacles and witnessed success is one of the reasons that has kept me perusing my own passion. When you actually know someone who has succeeded in the industry, you can’t help but think, “I can do that too.” And that’s exactly what Benny has done for me. Knowing that his band could make it into the pages of Rolling Stone made me realize that I too, could make it writing for Rolling Stone. Why not? The sky’s the limit.


John Mayer


He has been an obsession of mine for quite some time. My former co-workers at WebMD and colleagues at JANE Magazine, heck all my friends, family and acquaintances know of my love for John Mayer. He’s one of those artists who has been such a major part of my life that the idea of meeting and interviewing him was so full of anticipation and high expectations. My dream interview, I’ve been trying for years to get a shot at interviewing him. I even got the okay from but unfortunately he hasn’t been doing many interviews as of late.


So, when I got the email that he’d be signing autographs for fans in New York at a pop-up store I just knew I had to cover it. When I got to the pop-up store location and realized I wasn’t on the press list I instantly felt defeated because with nearly 3,000 fans lined up to meet Mayer too, there was little chance I’d get inside. Luckily, some co-workers started talking to one of the men by the door and it turned out he was John Mayer’s photographer who had traveled with him and had photos on display at the exhibit. After I interviewed him about his experience working with Mayer he was able to get us inside. The photographer asked if I was going to talk to John and I suddenly became so shy. This singer who I’ve grown up listening to was standing 10 feet in front of me.



Of course I had to at least say hi, right? After purchasing an album for him to sign for a friend along with something for myself my friend Wendy and I approached the table where he was signing. “Hi, I’m Annie” I said reaching out my hand for him to shake. He looked at me inquisitively and I couldn’t help but wonder if no other fans in line shook his hand. After much coaxing from Wendy for John to take a photo with me he apologized that he wasn’t able to take photos with fans since the line was so long. As the manager clearly wouldn’t let a photo opp happen I assured Mayer that I understood and it was no big deal (although of course I wanted a photo!) As we were ushered to the door he turned to me and said, “Thank you for being so understanding, Annie.”



That was it. I didn’t ask him any burning questions about his music I’ve wondered for years or say anything witty. I simply introduced myself and got something autographed and was ushered out of the store like every other fan in line. No fireworks, nothing remarkable to report. I walked out of the store indifferent and realized — here’s the shocker — John Mayer is just a person like the rest of us. He’s not some musician who should be worshiped or idolized. He’s just another human being working at making a living doing what he loves.


I think I grew up a lot in that brief moment of meeting him. While I will surely always admire his music I realized that I’m a professional. Sure, I would have loved to chat with him more about the meaning behind his lyrics and what his life is really like, but maybe it’d be better off if I didn’t know right now. We’ll just save all that for a future interview.