As the world becomes aware of singer/songwriter Adam Hambrick, listeners will get a two-fold reward – a short-term jolt from an engaging musical package and a long-term satisfaction as repeated plays unveil the depth in his word play and storytelling.
Hambrick cut his teeth as a Nashville songwriter, penning two #1 hits – Dan + Shay’s “How Not To” and Justin Moore’s “Somebody Else Will” – plus Lindsay Ell’s Top 40 single “Waiting On You.” He knows how to hook a song, and he does that brilliantly on his debut album, invariably imbuing the 16 songs with cool melodies and structures that balance mystery and optimism.
Those musical aspects are worthwhile in themselves, but after multiple listens, Hambrick’s subtle mastery of the classic country twist works as a delayed bonus. The turn of a phrase in “Country Stars” – where his youthful desire to become a travelling musician gives way to an adult appreciation of star-filled country skies – is likely obvious the first time around.
But the hidden-in-plain-sight meanings and phrases in other songs make it an album worth revisiting often. “Heart To Break” casts a steely barroom beauty who seems “heartless” at first glance as someone who’s “all out of heart to break.” “Do The Math” measures a man’s pain by adding up the drinks he uses to drown it. The album’s first single, “Rockin’ All Night Long,” takes a big-picture view of after-midnight activities, showing how the late-nights romps of a carefree kid turn into the early-morning expressions of comfort provided by a loving dad to his crying daughter.
That’s part of what Hambrick learned as he honed his songwriting craft on Music Row: how to create songs that work for a casual, surface listener but still reward invested fans who take the time to look under the hood. Those interlocking levels are key to understanding him.
“I’ve always found there is an innate power in music,” he says. “When you say something, you say it, but when you sing it, there’s a level of intentionality and force behind the weight of the words. So it’s a different thing. I love getting to sing these songs and mean them. To sing a song and mean it, you have to be saying something substantial.”
Hambrick accomplishes that while pulling together a passel of influences in a unique way. Atmospheric steel guitars, heavily reverbed rhythms and soaring melodies support the ‘90s country, 2000s pop and timeless blue-eyed soul at the heart of his art. It’s all delivered with a guy-next-door tenor that mixes angst and sensitivity while taking an adult viewpoint on topics that are familiar to consumers of every age.
“A lot of this record is me dealing with the younger me,” he notes. “It’s the emotional fallout from that, and missing that kid, and just trying to make sense of who I am as a means of understanding how I got here.”
As is the case with nearly every success story, Hambrick’s arrival in a much-coveted vocation is an opportunity created by both sweat and luck. Growing up in Corinth, Mississippi, he found himself in a sort of bridge locale between multiple Southern music centers. To the west was Memphis, a mecca for gritty soul. To the north was Jackson, Tennessee, the home of the Rockabilly Museum. To the east was Muscle Shoals with its raw pop/rock history. To the south was Tupelo, the birthplace of Elvis Presley.
Corinth itself was awash in country, and Hambrick’s personal interpretation of all those influences was filtered through the church, where his father was a Baptist pastor and his mom played piano. He had a natural gift for performing, though he didn’t initially think of it as much more than a hobby.
“As a kid, making music as a career is kind of a pipe dream,” he says. “There were some cover bands and stuff I had seen around town, but country music, radio, the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville – all that stuff felt so distant from where I was.”
And yet that music made a huge impression. Country hits from the ‘90s “laid the bedrock foundation for my love of songs,” Hambrick says, pointing to Mark Chesnutt, Joe Diffie and Alan Jackson, whose “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow” earns an oblique reference in Hambrick’s own “Country Stars.” Hambrick wore out Garth Brooks’ landmark No Fences album when he received his first cassette tape player as a Christmas gift.
As he aged, rock acts such as Foo Fighters, Third Eye Blind, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Taking Back Sunday provided the soundtrack for a more rebellious stage. But Hambrick found the key to unlock his own skills when he discovered John Mayer.
“John Mayer was really the first singer-songwriter that just came out of nowhere and had a direct and lasting impact on me,” Hambrick enthuses. “That was the common thread that runs through all of it, because with all these bands and artists, it’s about their songs. They’re real-deal stories, vivid imagery, lyric-driven songs. That’s the thing that’s always been important to me, like ‘What are you actually saying?’”
The Hambricks had moved to Mississippi from Arkansas before Adam’s birth, but they spent enough time with relatives back in rural Des Arc that the Natural State felt as much like home as Mississippi. So when it came time for college, he majored in mass communications at Central Arkansas University, a campus known for its purple-and-gray football field (“Go Purple Bears,” Hambrick wryly cheers), located in Conway, the town that gave late Country Music Hall of Fame member Conway Twitty the first half of his stage name.
Hambrick became a bit of a local sensation, packing fraternity houses and Little Rock clubs for a time. One of his buddies in Conway, Kris Allen, won a season of American Idol, and watching that experience gave Hambrick motivation to start recording his own songs.
In the process, he ended up on Little Rock TV station KATV, promoting his first self-released album, Fighting From the Ground, and a local club show. As it happened, country star Justin Moore caught the televised performance and was impressed enough that he called his producer, Jeremy Stover (Jack Ingram, Drake White), and recommended Hambrick. Within days, Hambrick had a meeting in Nashville and started visiting regularly to write songs.
“Justin changed my life that day,” says Hambrick. “He could have been like, ‘That guy’s pretty good’ and then gone about his day, but just the fact that he made a phone call to the guy that’s now my mentor, that got a really incredible ball rolling for me.”
Roughly 18 months later, Hambrick signed his first publishing deal and made the move to Nashville. He intended to continue making the occasional album to appease his inner artist, but the real focus was writing songs. Initially, he put his focus in the writing room on creating material for Nashville’s A-list acts, but that evolved as he discovered that redirection took some of the character out of his compositions.
“If I’m trying to put myself into somebody else’s head and trying to say what I think Luke Bryan would say, I’m full of crap ‘cause I don’t know what Luke Bryan is gonna say or what he’s even comfortable saying,” Hambrick notes. “So it was kind of a process of getting smaller – don’t worry about what’s on the chart, just do what I feel. When I started doing that, I started becoming more inspired to write and those songs were becoming more reactive with people in town.”
Particularly with Universal Music Group A&R executive Stephanie Wright, who was in the audience when he played a songwriters round. She was intrigued by his melodic prowess, his unique outlook and his self-effacing sarcasm. After the show, she made a point of cultivating a relationship.
“Over that next year I just kept writing and kept sending her songs and she kept being a fan and kept making fans in the Universal building,” he says. “It was just a very organic, very relational development. I didn’t choose to go after country radio. That was an opportunity that opened up, and I walked through that door.”
He brought a figurative truck load of music with him. Hambrick had 110 songs that seemed ideal for his own artistry. They narrowed that to 40, then settled on a final 16 that showcase his passionate vulnerability and his ability to depict the drama in human interaction.
Splitting his time between two next-generation musician/producers – Andrew DeRoberts (Brantley Gilbert, James Blunt) and Paul DiGiovanni (Jordan Davis, Dan + Shay) – he came up with a project that balances country, soul and the occasional tinge of electro-pop. The incandescent “White Lying,” the ultra-catchy “Forever Ain’t Long Enough,” the hypnotic “Broken Ladder” and the melancholy “Sunset” are immediately gratifying. But like the other dozen songs in the package, their biggest reward is their long-term value, the payoff from exploring the layers of sound and pockets of meaning that are key to understanding Adam Hambrick. The multiple styles that feed his brand of country are authentic, but so is his commitment to songs that stand the test of time.
“I’m always gonna be invested in country music,” Hambrick says. “I’m always gonna be invested in the community around country music, but at the end of the day, I want to make good music. Period.”
Multi-PLATINUM singer/ songwriter Kip Moore is kicking off 2021 by offering fans another song from his upcoming extended record WILD WORLD DELUXE, releasing the thumping while trippy new track “How High” today, available to listen here. Moore also shared a new video for the song produced and co-written by Moore (Bobby Terry, Luke Dick, Westin Davis). Directed by longtime collaborator PJ Brown, the eccentric focal character reels the viewer in and takes them on a spirited journey, available to watch here.
“How High” is taken from Moore’s 17-track collection, WILD WORLD DELUXE, which will be available on February 12 and is available to pre-order now here. To celebrate the release Moore also announced a special concert event, WILD WORLD DELUXE: LIVE AT THE RYMAN set for release day (2/12). Taking place at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN at 8pm CT, fans can purchase a limited number of in-person tickets for the socially-distanced show, or tickets to the global livestream event, available beginning Tuesday, Jan 19 at ryman.com/event/kip-moore/. The show will also benefit ACM Lifting Lives, with $1 from every ticket sold being donated to the cause.
Moore’s “especially vital” (Esquire) fourth studio album, WILD WORLD has garnered mass critical acclaim and has racked up over 193 million streams worldwide. Critics have praised Moore as he “probes growth and honesty” (American Songwriter) and offers a “much needed escape” (Forbes) with his “mature yet fresh blend of soaring 80’s heartland and contemporary country depth” (Classic Rock). Moore also recently released the first new track from the Deluxe version, “Don’t Go Changing,” with an impactful music video. The video served as a call to action to fans to help support and donate to Music Venue Alliance Nashville, whose aim is to help independent music venues working to survive during the pandemic.
Multi-PLATINUM singer/ songwriter Kip Moore has toured the world headlining his own shows, earning acclaim and a rabid fanbase as an all-in performer in each setting, wrapping 40 sold-out headlining shows in The U.S, The U.K. and Canada at the beginning of 2020. Praised by Noisey as “an uncompromising, genre-defying artist firing on all cylinders” Moore has blazed his own trail. Moore’s revered fourth studio album WILD WORLD spawned his recent Top 15 single “She’s Mine.” The current CMA “International Artist Achievement Award” nominee first splashed into the mainstream with the double-PLATINUM No.One “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck” in 2012, then followed up with three more best selling No. Ones (“Hey Pretty Girl,” “Beer Money” and “More Girls Like You”), a trio of ambitious, critically-praised albums and two gritty EPs that landed Moore on multiple “Best Of” lists. For more information visit kipmoore.net.
Parker McCollum just released the music video for his latest single, “To Be Loved By You.” Directed by Peter Zavadil, the video showcases an energetic performance from Parker as he moves on from a relationship.
“To Be Loved By You,” which he co-wrote with Rhett Akins, is the follow-up to Parker’s debut No.1 hit single “Pretty Heart” which was recently certified Gold by the RIAA. “Pretty Heart” has consistently stayed in the Top 10 on the country streaming chart for several weeks averaging almost 7M streams a week. “Pretty Heart” is featured on Parker’s recent EP, Hollywood Gold, which debuted Top 10 on the Billboard country chart and marked the highest-selling debut EP for 2020. Critics praised Hollywood Gold with Billboard noting, “McCollum’s voice is twangy and strong and the Texan’s songwriting really stands out. There’s nothing cookie-cutter about these songs.” American Songwriter added, “Parker McCollum shines bright on his new EP Hollywood Gold.”
A singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and dedicated road warrior, Parker McCollum began building a following in his native Texas with 2015’s The Limestone Kid. The album track “Meet You in The Middle” became a hit on Texas’ regional radio chart — no small feat for an independent, 22-year-old musician — but it was the album’s widely-acclaimed follow-up, Probably Wrong, that helped Parker find national success. Compared to John Mayer and Jason Isbell by Rolling Stone, Parker supported the album with a string of sold-out shows, bringing record-breaking crowds to venues like San Angelo’s RiverStage and two sold-out Billy Bob’s along the way. Born in Conroe, TX, and currently based in Austin, the 28-year-old entrepreneurially-spirited artist bridges the gap between Texas’ homegrown music scene and Nashville’s country-industry headquarters. For a full list of tour dates, news and more, visit www.parkermccollum.com
The Texas native is set to make his Grand Ole Opry debut on February 6th.
For a highlight reel of Parker’s accomplishments, watch the clip below.
Dierks Bentley has developed a real love for Telluride, Colorado. He first went out to the majestic location for a Bluegrass Music Festival several years ago. Then, he vacationed out there, and subsequently brought out several songwriter friends for a writers retreat. Inspired by the location, the mountains and the serenity, they wrote songs that would make up his 2018 album, The Mountain. He also recorded the album in Telluride, which is also the place he has held his own music festival a couple of times.
So, when the pandemic hit the U.S. and he and his family had to quarantine, they were already hanging out in Telluride, and so he and his wife made the decision to stay right there, especially since his three children were already remote learning.
“I’ve been out there in Colorado, we went out there in March, I guess it was, for a family trip and then COVID hit and we never left. I kind of used it as an opportunity to sneak out there and then we just stayed,” says Dierks. “I was worried about the fall and schools and being in person and being in big cities, and there’s a little school out there they can go to, so they’re doing that. So, it’s allowed me – if I’m gonna be unemployed and if I’m gonna have this time, I just wanna be somewhere where I can make up for lost time on the road as far as like mountains and rivers and hiking and biking and family time and riding bikes with my kids to school and so much to do with them and outdoors all the time, which I kind of needed after this many years on the bus and on the road. So, I’m trying to stay inspired and knowing when it does go green again, I’ll probably be gone a lot, trying to make up for the deficit of these last few years…of this last year.”
Dierks is making his way up the country charts with his latest single, “Gone.”
Dierks Bentley (enjoying Telluride) OC: …song says – a lot. 1:04
“I’ve been out there in Colorado, we went out there in March, I guess it was, for a family trip and then COVID hit and we never left. I kind of used it as an opportunity to sneak out there and then we just stayed. I was worried about the fall and schools and being in person and being in big cities, and there’s a little school out there they can go to, so they’re doing that. So, it’s allowed me – if I’m gonna be unemployed and if I’m gonna have this time, I just wanna be somewhere where I can make up for lost time on the road as far as like mountains and rivers and hiking and biking and family time and riding bikes with my kids to school and so much to do with them and outdoors all the time, which I kind of needed after this many years on the bus and on the road. So I’m trying to stay inspired and knowing when it does go green again, I’ll probably be gone a lot, trying to make up for the deficit of these last few years…of this last year. Hopefully, it’s just the one year, right? I’m already thinking ahead to 2022. Yikes! Hopefully, we’re out there in 2021. So, yeah, I’m trying to make the most of the time and it’s definitely been good in that regard, because I’ve been gone – like the song says – a lot.”