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Dashboard Confessional End Nashville Residency with Fiery Sold-Out Show
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews

Dashboard Confessional closed their fifth and final night at Nashville’s Basement East on Tuesday (Feb. 28) to a sold-out crowd. The packed room had longtime fans singing along word for word throughout the band’s lengthy catalog that spanned back to 2000’s The Swiss Army Romance.

The band’s residency was a homecoming for the musicians and the evening struck a chord with frontman Chris Carrabba, who remarked that he loved being able to drive to work every day. “It’s weird to be able to drive to work,” he admitted mid-set. “This week has been the best week of my entire life.”

Some famous fans in attendance agreed, as Kacey Musgraves and Paramore’s Hayley Williams posted videos of themselves singing along throughout the night. As Musgraves noted, Dashboard were “making my dreams come true tonight.”

Carrabba & Co. kicked off their set shortly after 10 p.m. with “Vindicated” and as the first guitar lick was played the venue erupted into screams. While the audience sang along, Carrabba wasn’t convinced they were fully into the show.

“Stop acting like you’re in L.A. and put your hands up,” he commanded.

The audience more than obliged and the Basement East quickly turned into a sweaty rock club as Dashboard fired through their set. While many of the songs played were well over a decade old, you’d never know it based on the audience’s reaction. Hands were in the air and voices were at an all time high screaming along.

Several songs into the set Carrabba asked if the crowd liked love songs. “You wanna sing a love song?” he asked before slowing down the performance for fan favorite “Stolen.”

“We live here too,” Carrabba later said. “It’s nice to be home with you guys. This is the last of a six-night stint and I really don’t want it to end.”

Throughout the band’s 90-minute set, they peppered in some new music. One song was the striking “We Fight,” which urges the listener to make his voice heard among those who frequently try to shut him down. “Somewhere there’s a kid who needs to hear this,” Carrabba sang alongside soaring guitar accompaniment.

“I never really fit in anywhere,” Carrabba prefaced the song, adding that finding music helped him feel included. “The thing that I’ve always loved about this music scene is that when I look around at a show, everyone is represented. There are people of every race and who practice every religion . . . we all seem to get along in here.”

He then urged concertgoers to bring that acceptance outside of the club and into our everyday lives. It’s a statement we can all get behind. Following the performance of “We Fight,” Carrabba closed the wall between performer and audience once again as his band left the stage and he was alone with his voice and his acoustic guitar. His three-song solo set included “The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most,” “Ghost of a Good Thing” and “The Swiss Army Romance.”

The night was far from over and when the band rejoined Carrabba on the stage they kicked the energy right back up where they left off. Highlights included the impassioned “Screaming Infidelities” and set closer “Hands Down.” Not quite ready to leave, as the song came to an end Carrabba asked the crowd if they had “a little more” for another sing along of the chorus. They did and the night ended in an epic sing along.

“See you soon,” he promised his Nashville neighbors. “If you see me on the road stop and say hi. I like people.”

March 2, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
Album Review: Aaron Watson’s ‘Vaquero’
CATEGORIES: CD Reviews

Aaron Watson

Credit: Joseph Llanes

Aaron Watson shocked the country world in 2015 when his independent album The Underdog debuted at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Top Country Albums chart with no major support or label. The milestone made Watson the first-ever independent male country artist to have an album debut at No. 1.

Since then, the Texas singer/songwriter has been hard at work on his follow-up, Vaquero, which was released on Feb. 24. Watson wrote or co-wrote every song on the 16-track album and the record showcases his unique brand of traditional country music. Each song tells a striking story that stays with the listener long after the last note is played. Many songs include country instrumentation at the forefront whether its soaring fiddle accompaniment, boot stomping rhythms, pedal steel or acoustic guitar.

Vaquero kicks off with the sweet ballad “Texas Lullaby” about a young Texan who finds himself called off to war. While fighting for his country and fearing for his life, his love back home in Texas keeps him hopeful of returning. Meanwhile, the poignant song’s vivid imagery keeps the listener intrigued and rooting for the soldier’s safety.

 

While the upbeat “Take You Home Tonight” keeps listeners tapping their feet with soaring fiddle accompaniment, the nostalgic “These Old Boots Have Roots” dig deeper as Watson sings of how he’ll always stand his ground and not forget where he comes from. “So I’ll march to the beat of my heart pounding like a drum,” he sings.

Penned by himself, “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To” is one of Vaquero‘s standout tracks. It’s a song that Watson says is his best-written on the album and this is evident as the ballad has the singer looking back on his youth and remembering the important values many people were taught as children.

“So you live the kind of life so long after you’re long gone / You’ll always be there in their hearts and your love light will shine on / And someday they’ll sit around down at John T’s Country Store / They’ll be laughing over stories you told a thousand times before saying / They don’t make em like you anymore / They don’t make em like you anymore,” he sings.

 

Other highlights include the sultry “Run Wild Horses” with driving electric guitar and the striking “Vaquero” where Watson tells a tale of meeting a Mexican cowboy mourning his departed wife at the bar. Struggling financially, the cowboy asks Watson for a shot in exchange for some wise words. It may be the best tab he’s run up as he goes home to his wife, reassessing the blessings in his life.

“He said don’t leave your beer in the hot Texas sun / Don’t argue with a woman when she’s holding a gun / Never cheat when it comes to love or dominos . . . don’t live your life like a sad country song,” Watson sings.

Good advice runs deep on Vaquero. Another track, fittingly titled “The Arrow,” this time has Watson offering lessons he’s come to learn in his life and bestowing them on his children (and listeners). “Don’t you forget every sunset will become a sunrise soon again / So be bold and be brave and beware . . . stay razor sharp and find your mark as you go chase your dreams,” he offers.

An album that offers just as much escape as it does wisdom, Watson leaves his mark once again on Vaquero. The Texan proves just why he launched to No. 1 with his last release and if Vaquero is any indication, he will do so again.

For more on Aaron Watson, visit his website. Vaquero is available now.

March 1, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
Little Big Town Host ‘The Breaker’ Release Party at Ryman Auditorium
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews, Features

I had the pleasure of interviewing Little Big Town earlier this month about their new album The Breaker, how Justin Timberlake and Pharrell Williams helped inspire the project and much more. On Friday, they kicked off the first-ever residency at Ryman Auditorium and brought out surprise guests Chris Stapleton and Sam Hunt as well as played many of their hits and their new album in its entirety. Below is an excerpt of my review.

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Little Big Town made history on Friday night (Feb. 24) when they kicked off the first-ever Ryman Auditorium residency. Dubbed “Little Big Town at the Mother Church,” the band’s stay was initially announced for six nights and then extended to nine due to overwhelming popularity.

Each of the band’s nine shows at the Ryman will feature different support acts and surprise special guests and the residency’s start did not disappoint. Both Sam Hunt and Chris Stapleton graced the stage while Brent Cobb opened the show. Throughout Little Big Town’s set, the country quartet performed their new album, The Breaker, front to back as well as threw in several older fan favorites. Meanwhile, the excitement and the honor to be the first act to play a residency at the famed venue was not lost on Little Big Town.

“Oh my goodness were at the Ryman everybody!” Kimberly Schlapman said three songs into the set. “And we’re here all year long! We are so excited about this night y’all. We worked on this record for over a year and we’re so happy. We’re going to do this two times. We’re going to play this record once tonight and tomorrow and that’ll be it the whole way down. So thank you for being here. We hope we remember the words but you won’t notice if we don’t!”

Friday was a special day for the quartet as it marked the release of their seventh studio album, The Breaker. In celebration, Little Big Town played the entirety of the record track by track kicking things off shortly before 9:30 with the upbeat Lori McKenna and Hailey Whitters-penned “Happy People.” The spotlights shined brightly on all four members throughout each song as their voices echoed within the venue’s church pews and stained glass windows.

Highlights included the stunning “Free” which showcased the quartets striking harmonies, the beautifully nostalgic “We Went to the Beach” and the synth-heavy ’80s rock throwback “Drivin’ Around,” which Audra Mae was a co-writer on. Following the band’s energetic performance, Karen Fairchild called out the songwriter who was in attendance.

“Maybe you should come tomorrow night and sing it with me,” Fairchild suggested. “If you’re not from Nashville you might not know, but we have the best songwriters in the world. So many of the writers are here tonight who collaborated with us on this record. We are really blessed and fortunate that we get to live in this town and we get to create music with these people. Thank you to all the writers that are here tonight, thank you for sharing your talents with us.”

For more of my live review visit Sounds Like Nashville.

February 27, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
Drake White Performs for Southwest Passengers at 35,000 Feet
CATEGORIES: Features

It’s been a long journey to making a career out of my love for music and every now and then there is a moment that reminds me it’s all been worth it. One of those moments happened Monday morning (Feb. 20) when I was invited aboard a flight from Dallas to Nashville to witness Drake White surprise Southwest Airlines passengers for a performance mid-flight. Here’s my recap via Nash Country Daily.

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Passengers flying from Dallas to Nashville on Monday morning (Feb. 20) were in for a surprise when Drake White stepped up to a microphone and performed several songs for unassuming flyers.

“Sorry if y’all wanted to sleep on this flight,” Drake apologized. “It’s not gonna happen.”

Drake’s set was in partnership with Southwest Airlines and Live in the Vineyard’s Live at 35, a series where artists perform 35,000 feet in the air. It was a unique experience for both Drake and his band as well as passengers on board. While Drake has previously toured with Zac Brown Band at baseball stadiums and is now headlining his own Spark Tour, he admitted there was no way to prepare for this performance.

“We’ve played so much and so many different places,” Drake told me after his performance as the Southwest flight made its descent into Nashville. “Everything from Domino’s Pizza to Fenway Park. You just accept it. You just get on up and let your heart do the talking.”

Accompanied by his guitarist and another band member playing washboard, Drake began his set at the front of the plane with “Story” as passengers looked on, snapped photos and filmed video. He then segued into his current single, “Makin’ Me Look Good Again,” which he wrote about his wife.

For more of my interview with Drake, visit Nash Country Daily.

February 21, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
Read the Kip Moore Cover Story
CATEGORIES: Features, Interviews

Kip Moore is learning to take life one step at a time. The singer/songwriter has been moving full speed ahead since the release of his debut album Up All Night in 2012 with little to no time off. In late 2016, he announced he’d be taking a much needed break from the road. This doesn’t mean he’ll stop releasing new music though. In fact, it’s quite the opposite as his new single “More Girls Like You” was released on Feb. 10.

Moore co-wrote the soaring power ballad with Steven Olsen, Josh Miller and David Garcia. The radio-friendly track details how he’s been “living like a wild ol’ mustang out in Montana fields” before he meets the lady of his affections. Now, he’s switching his lifestyle and thinking about settling down.

“So God made girls like you make guys like me / Wanna reach for the brightest star, set it on a ring / Put it on your hand, grab a piece of land / And raise a few / More girls like you,” he sings in the chorus.

The song came to fruition when Moore began discussing how crazy his life has become since moving from South Georgia to Nashville more than 10 years ago. Since his artist career has taken off he’s seen much of the world, and throughout his many travels he has noticed one constant theme: the joy a family brings people, no matter the ethnicity.

“Watching a man with his kids, and especially when they have a little girl, if you watch that complete sense of awe they have for that kid, I paid attention,” he tells me over the phone with a slight Southern drawl. “I’ve seen all different walks of life with that.”

While Moore admits that he has never eagerly awaited fatherhood, he is slowly becoming more open to the idea of having his own family one day.

“I’ve always felt that chapter would be fun, but I’ve just never chased after it,” he says, pausing. “For the first time in my life, from all my travels and everything that I’ve been doing, I look forward to that chapter. I think it’ll be a blast teaching my little girl how to surf, or my kid to play basketball, or whatever it is, hanging out and living that life.”

The song is a romantic one, in that it details how strongly the main character feels about his significant other.

“He thinks that she’s so incredible that hopefully when we do have kids they turn out just like you,” Moore explains. “I look forward to being so crazy about somebody that you want to have kids that turn out like them.”

“More Girls Like You” is the lead single off Moore’s upcoming project. He wrote the song four months ago and says he felt like it was a good way to start the flow of his third album. While he’s tight-lipped about the release, he revealed that he has produced most of the record by himself.

For more of my cover story on Kip Moore, visit Sounds Like Nashville.

February 13, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
Songwriting Session with Natalie Hemby
CATEGORIES: Songwriting Session

Natalie-Hemby

Photo credit: Kate York

Songwriting Session is a column that goes behind-the-scenes with artists and songwriters. Each Sunday, a new songwriter will share their journey and provide lessons they’ve learned along the way. This week, Natalie Hemby shares what she has learned as a songwriter.

 

Natalie Hemby had a long journey to releasing her debut album, Puxico, in January. The Nashville native and established songwriter is well known in Music City for penning hits for Miranda Lambert (“White Liar,” “Automatic”) and Little Big Town (“Pontoon,” “Tornado”), among others, but for years she was trying to make it as an artist. Hemby found herself close to a record deal several times throughout her first decade as a songwriter but due to the shifting musical landscape and regime changes at labels, she never signed on the dotted line.

“When I hit 30 I just gave it up,” Hemby tells me over the phone two days after her debut album dropped. “I was just like, ‘I want to write music. I don’t really care what that looks like. I don’t care if anybody every hears it. I just want to write music because I love to write songs.’ I even worked a job at Comcast for a while, which I actually really loved because I learned so much and I got a lot of great song ideas out of it.”

Hemby says her day job at Comcast grounded her and made her love songwriting even more. At the time her husband, Mike Wrucke, began producing Miranda Lambert and the two women became fast friends. Hemby soon found herself singing on Lambert’s first three albums and the Texas native kept urging her to set up a co-write.
“I thought she was hilarious and I really loved her music,” Hemby recalls. “She kept telling me, ‘Hey, we should get together and write.’ She said that a few times and the third time she was like, ‘No, I’m serious. Let’s write!’”

The two songwriters finally got together and the first time they met they wrote “White Liar,” which would become both Hemby and Lambert’s first No. 1. They continued their partnership and co-wrote four songs featured on Lambert’s third album, Revolution. Meanwhile, Hemby likens Lambert to a younger sister and says she respects her songwriting.

“I’m really lucky that I get to connect with somebody like her because she is a deep well of lyrics, and talent, and she’s hilarious. We had our first No. 1 together and it all sprung from that. The great thing is, she was also very respectful of me. She knew that I loved to write and that’s why we have such a great relationship, we just love music. We love good music.”

Another song Hemby co-wrote with Lambert was their CMA Single of the Year and ACM Song of the Year, “Automatic.” Hemby remembers Nicolle Galyon bringing the idea to their writing session.

“I probably contributed the least lyrically to the song,” she admits. “Melodically, those were my melodies. Each person has their role each different day. Like for ‘Only Prettier,’ I came in with that chorus and the first verse. I wanted to map this out pretty straightaway. I had the chorus, the first verse, and then melodies. With this one I took a backseat because I’m not the only one who loves nostalgia. Miranda loves that kind of stuff. Nicolle had this idea, ‘whatever happened to waiting your turn.’ Those two really carved out a lot.”

For more of my interview with Natalie Hemby, visit Sounds Like Nashville.

February 12, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
Songwriting Session with Emma White
CATEGORIES: Features, Interviews, Songwriting Session

Emma White EP COVER

 

Songwriting Session is a column that goes behind-the-scenes with artists and songwriters. Each Sunday, a new songwriter will share their journey and provide lessons they’ve learned along the way. This week, Emma White shares what she has learned as a songwriter.

 

Emma White was born into a musical family as both her mother and grandmother were singers and songwriters. In fact, Emma was named after Emmylou Harris while her siblings are named after a James Taylor reference. So, it’s safe to say that music has been woven into her life from an early age. Over coffee at Nashville’s Portland Brew, White recalls her music filled childhood fondly.

“We would have hootenannies all the time. My family got together and played and sang,” she says with a smile. “I was into pop music at the time. My family was always singing John Prine and Patty Griffin. They exposed me to something I might not have chosen on my own but it was always a part of me.”

White loved pop and R&B music while her family preferred country. Her latest EP blends all three genres and she credits her time studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston for helping her evolve as a songwriter.

The singer/songwriter wrote her first song as a teenager and began shopping her demos around at the age of 16. She’d often perform Lauryn Hill songs at talent shows in Maryland with the dream of being a singer. However, it wasn’t until she heard a Clive Davis interview where he stressed the importance of being able to write songs that she realized she should focus more on songwriting.

After living in Boston and New York, White made her way to Nashville although she admits she never thought she’d wind up in Music City.

“I was a New York girl, but every opportunity and every door that ever opened ended up being down here,” she says.

The first song she released professionally was called “His Eyes” and she first thought it was an R&B track. People advised her to submit it to a local Maryland radio station where it won an undiscovered talent contest with their country station. Suddenly, she realized she was actually writing country music.

White’s latest EP released on Friday (Feb. 3), merges her passions for songwriting, country, pop and hip-hop. While the songs include classic country songwriting the production hints at pop and R&B. This is exemplified in the standout song “My Ex,” co-written with Jesse Lee (Kelsea Ballerini’s “Peter Pan”).

“We kept that storytelling aspect of it, and then when I worked with my producers we really wanted it to be a hybrid of R&B and country,” she says of the song “My Ex.”

White’s new single “Not That Into You” is more pop based and sounds like a song that would fit in perfectly on radio in between Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson. She says it’s her favorite song she’s ever written and was inspired after a trip to LA. While attending an industry event a man there was making strong advances towards her. Taken aback, White turned the off-putting experience into a song that embodies a humorous portrayal of a girl pushing a guy away.

“I had seen the movie He’s Just Not That Into You and on my Facebook there are always ads: ‘Why are you single? This is why. Buy my guide.’ I thought in a theatrical way about [writing] it. I wanted to take on a gutsier character,” she explains. “I wanted it to be something a little bit shocking that you might not hear a female say. While I was writing it I sent it to my best friend who lives in New York. She had been on a million Tinder and Bumble dates and she was like, ‘I love this song. I totally get it.’ She wrote, ‘I’m not playing games or hard to get.’ So, I put it in the song and she’s the co-writer on this song.”

White’s new EP includes seven songs, all of which she co-produced, and spans several genres. She says this was intentional as she wanted each song to stand firmly on its own.

“For this album, I wanted to make every song stand on its own sonically. It definitely has an overall pop/country feel,” she shares. “Some songs lean more pop/rock and others have an urban thing going on. I really wanted to create a fingerprint for each song. There are certain melodies you’ll hear in certain songs and different textures in each song. It’s a blend of a lot of things.”

It has been a long musical journey for White, who now lives in Nashville full-time. She says if she could have told herself anything before taking the leap into music it would be to buckle up because there are a lot of highs and lows. She adds that having patience is important and stresses at being open to collaboration.

“I think co-writing has really expanded my sound and songwriting,” she admits. “You always learn from other people in the room. We can do so much more when we’re working together.”

She adds that she’s constantly trying to find a balance between success as a songwriter and simply doing it because she loves to write.

“You never want to have to compromise certain things. I think the biggest thing is staying true to what you think is good,” she says. “Being a songwriter is often a struggle but it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Performing, singing and music is woven into who I am. It’s always felt like it’s what I was meant to do. It chose me, I didn’t choose it.”

For more on Emma White visit her website and to purchase her music, click here. Catch Emma live in Nashville on Monday evening (Feb. 6) for Whiskey Jam at Winners Bar & Grill.

February 5, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
Trace Adkins Discusses New Album ‘Something’s Going On’
CATEGORIES: Features, Interviews

I’ve been lucky to have been able to chat with some of country music’s most respected artists over the years. Earlier this week, I sat down for an interview with Trace Adkins who gave me an early preview of his upcoming 12th studio album Something’s Going On, which is due for release on March 31. It was a full circle moment for me as five years ago I ran into him on the street in New York City, before I ever dreamed of moving to Nashville. Below is an excerpt of that interview:

Something’s Going On boasts songs written by Tyler Farr, Craig Campbell, Old Dominion’s Trevor Rosen and Shane McAnally, among others. One of the tracks, “Whippoorwills and Freight Trains,” written by Phil O’Donnell, Jeff Middleton and Brandon Kinney, is a song Trace cites as the most honest on the album.

“It’s just a lonely . . . ,” he admits with a pause. “The last few years have been personally pretty difficult and I think ‘Whippoorwills and Freight Trains’ really speaks to where my emotions and everything have been for the last few years.”

It’s also a song that Trace confesses was difficult to sing while in the studio, along with another track called “If Only You Were Lonely,” which was written by Jon Coleman and Troy Johnson.

“I really remember recording [“If Only You Were Lonely”],” Trace says. “The day I was in the studio singing that one, something happened in the booth and I had to stop for a while. I couldn’t maintain my composure, it tore me up. It hurts when it happens but then you go, ‘Wow. Thank you, God, for moving me like that when I was singing a song.’”

The centerpiece of Something’s Going On is the album’s first single, “Watered Down.” Written by Shane McAnally, Trevor Rosen and Matt Jenkins, it’s a song that Trace says summarizes his current state of mind.

“Lyrically, from the very first line it really encapsulates and summarizes where I find myself, it seems, at this point in my life. I’ve mellowed out a little bit hopefully and calmed down a little bit, trying to stay out of the news,” he says with a laugh. “Everything about the song just fit exactly where I seem to be in my life right now.”

For more of my interview with Trace, visit Nash Country Daily.

February 4, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
Luke Bryan Brings the Party to Mexico with Crash My Playa 2017
CATEGORIES: Concert Reviews

A photo posted by Annie Reuter (@yousingiwrite) on

It’s hard to believe exactly one week ago I was soaking up the sun and on a beach covering a music festival in Mexico! I was lucky enough to be asked back to cover Luke Bryan’s third annual Crash My Playa festival in Mexico this past weekend for Sounds Like Nashville. For four days, nearly 60,000 country music fans flew to Mexico to witness country music in a picturesque setting. Hosted by Bryan, each day included poolside concerts and nightly performances on the beach at the Barceló resort in Riviera Maya.

While each night boasted a new headliner — Little Big Town, Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton — Saturday night was the most memorable evening as Shelton had an hour-long encore where many of his famous friends made a surprise appearance.

“It’s 11:06. I think that’s time to rock,” Shelton said after performing “Footloose,” his first song during the encore. Moments later girlfriend Gwen Stefani ran onto the stage for a high intensity one-song set of No Doubt’s “Hella Good” where she had everyone jumping on her command.

“Holy! That’s Gwen Stefani for real,” Shelton said after Stefani left, blowing him a kiss. “That’s gonna cost Luke. We are in overtime so we can do whatever the hell we want. I’m tired of my own songs. I want to play other people’s songs. Let’s see what happens.”

Shelton’s band then became the karaoke bar band for the remainder of the evening. As the familiar opening riff from George Strait’s “All My Ex’s Live In Texas” was played Bryan entered the stage to join in on the fun. Several minutes later Little Big Town made their appearance to assist on Restless Heart’s “The Bluest Eyes in Texas” where they stayed for the remainder of the night.

Drinks in hand for each singer, the country stars and friends then performed covers of Rhett Akins’ “That Ain’t My Truck,” Billy Joel’s “My Life,” Mel McDaniel’s “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On,” Brooks & Dunn’s “Neon Moon,” The Bellamy Brothers’ “If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body,” Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (The Pina Colada Song),” Hank Jr.‘s “Family Tradition,” Dwight Yoakam’s “Guitars, Cadillacs” and Garth Brooks’ “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old).” It was an epic end to Shelton’s previous 90-minute set.

Throughout the weekend I had the pleasure of chatting with Dustin Lynch, Old Dominion, Brothers Osborne, Brooke Eden and Adam Craig. Stay tuned for my interviews and to read each nightly recap, visit Sounds Like Nashville.

January 26, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
Album Review: Natalie Hemby’s ‘Puxico’
CATEGORIES: CD Reviews

Natalie-Hemby

(Photo credit: Kate York)

Natalie Hemby is the songwriter behind many popular country songs including Miranda Lambert’s “Automatic,” Little Big Town’s “Pontoon” and Justin Moore’s “You Look Like I Need a Drink.” After nearly a decade of writing for others, Hemby has decided it’s time to release an album of her own.

“I spent my 20s trying to land a record deal, and most of my 30s writing for other people,” she says. “It’s time to put out my own record. Maybe I’m a late bloomer, or maybe it’s just finally the right time to bloom.”

The singer/songwriter is giving country fans a taste of who she is as an artist on her nine-track debut, Puxico. Written about her grandfather’s hometown of Puxico, Missouri, the album has Hemby focused on the way she was raised as well as the shared tales of her family. Much like songwriters turned artists Brandy Clark and Lori McKenna before her, Hemby’s ability as a songwriter is shown on every track with vivid imagery. The country and roots based album also allows Hemby’s voice to shine and puts her rightfully at the forefront where she belongs.

While rollicking album opener “Time Honored Tradition” sounds like a track Lambert would cut, Hemby impresses with her laidback singing style as she describes life as a troubadour before finding comfort in the city of Puxico. A kindred town filled with good company, it is one where the “first one you meet is a trusted friend” and a “glass is never half empty.”

Later, the poetic ballad “Cairo, IL” paints a similar picture of a small town where some dream of raising a family while others fantasize about leaving. On this track, Hemby’s airy vocals are accompanied by delicate pedal steel. “Ferris Wheel” follows suit and is one of the standout tracks on the LP. A metaphor for life, Hemby likens the ride to the ups and downs we all go through. “Just when you think you know how it ends, it turns you in circles back to the beginning again.” She continues, “the view is better when it’s all up in the air.”

For more of my review, visit Sounds Like Nashville.

January 18, 2017 | | (0) comment comment
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Willie Shaw's sultry new song mesmerizes upon first listen.
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