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.”
Capitol Nashville’s Caylee Hammack is sharing more of her unique journey with the gripping new song “Forged In The Fire,” available here. Taken from her forthcoming debut album IF IT WASN’T FOR YOU available on August 14, the autobiographical track details how Hammack’s house burned down while she was away on a songwriting retreat losing just about everything – except for a few song-inspiring pieces such as her grandmother’s quilt. Written by Hammack, with Thomas Finchum and Andy Skib, the song’s lyrics are thought-provoking asking “When does a phoenix learn how to fly, Do I get my wings when I stop asking why.” Hammack revealed more behind the song in a special interview and video premiere exclusively with PEOPLE, who declares her anticipated debut album as a “lavish feast of autobiographical storytelling, served up with catchy hooks and the singer’s power-packed voice” available here.
“My father used to tell me that all of the strongest and most beautiful things are forged in fire. Iron is weak until you work it in fire. Glass can’t be blown without immense heat,” elaborated Hammack. “I grew up with this saying as a motto handed down when I needed reminding and it was rarely thought of; until I had an electrical fire at my home in 2017. I lost so much, but gained so much more. I learned that material things don’t matter. The people who surrounded me and helped me find the salvageable pieces loved me and I wasn’t alone through the hardship. Life was dark at the time, but the love I felt around me was deep. God’s seen me through, and also given me some stories to tell. What more could I ask for?”
Hammack’s upcoming debut record IF IT WASN’T FOR YOU takes listeners on an intimate journey, from growing up in Ellaville, GA, braving a medical scare and coming out the other side of a bad love that was the catalyst for her turning down a scholarship to Belmont University and ultimately arriving in Nashville, TN. With Hammack co-writing and co-producing every track on the 13-song collection, the album exudes that Hammack is all about the truth, the complete, whole unvarnished truth. Some of country music’s most potent women have also thrown in on Hammack’s debut. With appearances by Reba, Ashley McBryde and Tenille Townes, Hammack is setting a bar for women across the genre. Hammack also continues to show her reverence for classic country music, just releasing a collaboration with Country music icon Alan Jackson: a special rendition of Don Williams’ “Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good.”
Currently nominated for ACM “New Female Artist Of The Year” and “Music Event Of The Year,” Caylee Hammack has been noted as an “Artist To Watch” by outlets including The Bobby Bones Show, Rolling Stone and HITS Magazine for her “voice to move mountains” (Rolling Stone). With her breakout Top 30 single “Family Tree” marking the most-added single at Country radio by a female artist in over three years, Hammack has “created a kind of country music that’s larger—and brighter—than real life” (HITS Magazine). The Capitol Nashville recording artist has previously brought her unforgettable live set to opening slots for Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, Trisha Yearwood, Brothers Osborne and some of country music’s biggest festivals. For more information visit www.cayleehammack.com.
Keith Urban took to his socials this week to reveal the track list and the album cover for his upcoming album, The Speed of Now, Part 1.
This is THE SPEED OF NOW. pic.twitter.com/YZ1eGhX0Mq
— Keith Urban (@KeithUrban) August 5, 2020
THE SPEED OF NOW Part 1, featuring “We Were,” “With You” and his latest hit, “God Whispered Your Name,” is available September 18th.
Check out the album trailer below:
Four-time Entertainer of the Year Luke Bryan kicked off his album release day for BORN HERE LIVE HERE DIE HERE with a performance on the 2020 Summer Citi Music Series on TODAY this morning and premiering a new music video for the album’s title track. Get the album HERE.
The “Born Here Live Here Die Here” video is a four-minute film with an inside look at Luke’s life and how his hometown and family have shaped the man he is today. From sites of Leesburg, Georgia to some of his most memorable career moments, the mini-movie gives viewers a juxtaposition glimpse that while playing stadiums, winning awards and meeting and performing for his fans, it’s bringing his family alongside him for each step of the journey that has kept him rooted in small-town integrity. Watch the video HERE.
“I want my albums to reflect all forms of life,” shared Luke about the new album. “No matter what’s going on in the world, I want to treat my albums with bringing everybody to the party. I try to share who I am and make music my fans can relate to, but still push some envelopes. I want it to be a look into my world, take ‘em somewhere. Let ‘em have some fun. No matter who you are as a human being, I’m visualizing how you’ll react when you hear this music.”
“The song ‘Born Here, Live Here, Die Here’ paints such a beautiful picture of rural life and a rural mindset. Every line tells of that small-town life and not needing to go look anywhere else, they’re happy, they’re content, they have everything they want right there. There’s something really, really special about those types of people. For many years I was that guy that was gonna be born there, live there, and never leave. But somehow I left and became a country music singer… but I still love to sing about those topics.”
Fans can check out Luke’s new album and hear him talk about exclusive BORN HERE LIVE HERE DIE HERE merch representing every state, only available to purchase via his Amazon Music store.
Next week, Luke fans can tune-in Monday night as he performs on Late Night with Seth Meyers and watch additional appearances on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen (Aug. 11), The Kelly Clarkson Show (Aug. 12), Opry Live (Aug 15) and Circle Sessions: Luke Bryan (Aug 19).
Luke’s seventh studio album, BORN HERE LIVE HERE DIE HERE, already includes three back-to-back #1 singles, “Knockin’ Boots,” “What She Wants Tonight” and current single “One Margarita,” which also became the 25th #1 single of his career. “One Margarita” currently has 103 million global streams.
Luke’s TWENTY-FIVE #1 singles
“One Margarita”- written by Michael Carter, Matt Dragstrem and Josh Thompson
“What She Wants Tonight”- written by Luke Bryan, Ross Copperman, Hillary Lindsey and Jon Nite
“Knockin’ Boots”- written by Hillary Lindsey, Gordie Sampson and Jon Nite
“What Makes You Country”- written by Luke Bryan, Dallas Davidson and Ashley Gorley
“Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset”- written by Zach Crowell, Ryan Hurd and Chase McGill
“Most People Are Good”- written by David Frasier, Ed Hill and Josh Kear
“Light It Up”- written by Luke Bryan, Brad Tursi
“Fast”-written by Luke Bryan, Rodney Clawson, Luke Laird
“Move”-written by Luke Bryan, Michael Carter, Jay Clementi
“Huntin’, Fishin’, And Lovin’ Every Day”- written by Luke Bryan, Dallas Davidson, Rhett Akins, Ben Hayslip
“Home Alone Tonight”-written by Jody Stevens, Cole Taylor, Jaida Dreyer, Tommy Cecil
“Strip It Down”- written by Luke Bryan, Jon Nite, Ross Copperman
“Kick The Dust Up”- written by Dallas Davidson, Chris DeStefano, Ashley Gorley
“I See You”- written by Luke Bryan, Ashley Gorley, Luke Laird
“Roller Coaster”- written by Michael Carter, Cole Swindell
“Play It Again”- written by Dallas Davidson, Ashley Gorley
“Drink A Beer”- written by Jim Beavers, Chris Stapleton
“That’s My Kind of Night”- written by Dallas Davidson, Chris DeStefano, Ashley Gorley
“Crash My Party”- written by Rodney Clawson, Ashley Gorley
“Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”- written by Luke Bryan, Jeff Stevens, Shane McAnally
“Drunk On You”- written by Rodney Clawson, Chris Tompkins, Josh Kear
“I Don’t Want This Night To End”- written by Luke Bryan, Dallas Davidson, Rhett Akins, Ben Hayslip
“Someone Else Calling You Baby”- written by Luke Bryan, Jeff Stevens
“Rain Is A Good Thing”- written by Luke Bryan, Dallas Davidson
“Do I”- written by Luke Bryan, Dave Haywood, Charles Kelly
Listen to Clips of ALL Luke’s 25 #1 hits in chronological order since 2009’s “Do I” which became his first chart topping hit.
Luke Bryan (BHLHDH song) OC: …those topics. :48
“’Born Here, Live Here, Die Here,’ the song just paints such a beautiful picture of rural life and a rural mindset. Every line in that song really tells that small town life and it talks to that person that is proud of that small town life – they don’t need to go look for anywhere else, they’re happy, they’re content, they got everything they want right there and there’s something really really special about those types of people. And the second I heard the song it just felt so real for me, and it told a story, a big story in my life cause there were many, many years I was that guy that was gonna be born there, live there, and never leave. So, somehow, I left and become a country music singer, but I still love to sing about those topics.”