Charley Crockett Talks New ‘Music City USA’ Album – Billboard

Charley Crockett may have come to his art relatively late – “I’m a slow learner, I started at 31,” he says – but he’s making up for lost time. Boasting a buttery yet crackling tenor reminiscent of iconic Texas artists from Willie Nelson to Freddy Fender, Crockett releases their 10th album since 2015 with City of Music United States, out Friday (September 17).

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The project, released on Son of Davy/Thirty Tigers, is Crockett’s most relevant to date. Through his previous albums, he has amassed a significant following of blues-loving country fans who have been waiting for a neo-traditionalist revolt of the genre for a quarter of a century. However, here, instead of reviving the music of timeless blues performers like James “Slim” Hand (the subject of Crockett’s February album, 10 for Thin), City of Music United States features songs like lead single “I Need Your Love”, a perfect blend of soul, country and classic blues that he imbues with deeply personal intonations.

The San Benito, Texas-born artist has quite a colorful history: A distant relative of Davy Crockett, he’s a twice-convicted marijuana ex-farmer and a self-taught busker whose specialty is killer ballads. But ask him about his aspirations and it’s clear he’s much more than a revivalist impersonating Merle Haggard or Johnny Cash.

Even now, despite being nominated for Emerging Act of the Year at the September 22 Americana Music Awards, Crockett says his most important win is that he finally believes himself competent as a storyteller after two decades. – a considerable achievement considering a tale he remembers from long ago when his performance fell far short of a bar owner’s expectations.

“This bar owner by the name of Smokey Greenwald once threw me off a stage on Decatur Street in New Orleans and said, ‘Get out of here and don’t come back until you learned how to lead a band with a fucking blues song!’ I got hurt that night,” Crockett laughs. “I was as pissed off as a mother, but I haven’t forgotten it.”

“Eventually,” he adds, “you learn blues, soul, country—hell, all styles, because you want to get paid.”

He goes on to list his genre inspirations, from R&B artists like Ray Charles, Otis Redding and Bill Withers to “traditionalist favorites” like George Jones, Hank Williams and Willie Nelson.

“Waylon Jennings once said that R&B and country are pretty much at a beat of each other – it’s true,” says Crockett. “That same era of the ’60s and the ‘Nashville sound’ of Chet Atkins—also a source of inspiration—is as much defined by R&B techniques and influences as it is an offshoot of traditional country.”

All of these influences inform his new album, including current single “Round This World,” which is based on mythological roots stemming from the High Chisos region of the Chihuahua Desert, near Crockett’s birthplace in the west. from Texas. “I focused on pouring my energy into the story that already existed,” says Crockett. “Then I started to add my point of view from things that I have already experienced while living my life. Then I added a touch of fiction, which sometimes helps me get my point across better.

He digs just as deep into his favorite sounds when discussing the album’s most poignant anthem, “The World Just Broke My Heart.” He says the title “came from a line I think I heard in a classic movie or something, and I stuck with it. It’s easy to write a topical song and pull very generic conclusions about society; however, I have listened to a few Roger Miller songs, like [1965’s] “Lonesome’s last word is me,” then I went to work. I had this incredible, awe-inspiring title, and, as he often did, I wanted to tie that title to an unexpected perspective. That’s what I like to do – take something huge, make it simple, then add something personal to it for a twist.

contemplating City of Music United States as his potential success, Crockett once again recalls the greats that came before him, citing how George Jones released six records in 1966 alone, when it took Willie Nelson the release of 17 solo albums before signing. with Columbia Records and to cross with the years 1975. red headed alien.

“I’m a role model like George or Willie,” Crockett says, “where with every album I put out, I’m learning as I live — and making records along the way. Eventually, my level of creativity and my productivity will match my talent. Sure, by then I’ll be 60, but I know I’d have told all the stories I know by then.

About Elizabeth J. Swartz

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