I hear you have new music—what can you tell us about it?

“Won’t Be Around” is a dedication to the rural and early American roots music of the first half of the 20th century–the lifeblood of America’s musical and cultural heritage. The song is about telling a loved one I’m fed up and moving on. It is the first single for my upcoming American roots album “Ethos: Son of a Sharecropper” which will be released on February 3, 2023.

Talk me through the thought process of the new tune.

The thought process behind “Won’t Be Around” was to pay homage to the grit of American roots music by drawing on my own personal experiences using blues, retro soul, country and folk. Producer Bobby Cole’s minimalist production was exactly what I envisioned for “Won’t Be Around”—a compelling use of acoustic guitar, piano, percussion and tambourine. I wanted to make a song that appealed to the senses—something that appears radiant, sounds modern, smells vintage, tastes smooth, but feels gritty and jagged.

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?

I think the biggest learning curve was understanding that “less is more.” As artists, we’ve become conditioned to needlessly embellish, variate and pack everything in a song—afraid that if we don’t, the listener will become bored and move on. I gave myself permission to stay grounded with this record and live in the subtleties of the music. I realized that I could let the music breathe without having to fill every moment of it with a lyric, adlib or harmony. I came to understand that American roots music can be viable, authentic and accessible without needing to be overproduced. This allowed me to focus on the song’s underlying story and narrative—not its commercial viability. 

Would you change anything now that it’s finished?

Absolutely not.