Gabe Lee discusses the music that influenced his new album ‘The Hometown Kid’
Nashville native Gabe Lee just released his new album The Hometown Kid last week, and now he caught up with us to discuss the influences behind the album, which range from contemporaries like Nikki Lane, Jason Isbell, and the late Justin Townes Earle to veterans like Jackson Browne, John Hiatt, and the late John Prine to -- as the album title implies -- having Nashville as his home. The Hometown Kid is a very fine collection of country, folk, and rock, all fueled by Gabe's expert storytelling, and you can stream the whole album and read what he had to say about the influences below.
Gabe also has an album release show in Nashville this Friday (11/4), followed by a one-off NYC date on November 7 at Rockwood Music Hall, and he'll also appear at the Pindrop Songwriter Series in Nashville on November 14.
INFLUENCES BEHIND THE HOMETOWN KID
All or Nothin' - Nikki Lane
Having been drawn to Nikki’s voice before, the release of this record in 2014 - and through every subsequent listen - is phenomenal evidence of artist development on all levels. Songs like “Man Up”, and “You Can’t Talk to Me Like That” may not have been considered commercial hits, but the production and writing on this record hits me just as well as her follow-up record Highway Queen, and should be touted as an integral step to Nikki’s unmistakeable grunge-icana sound she has virtually perfected in her latest project Denim and Diamonds.
"Have A Little Faith In Me" - John Hiatt
Soul. What more is there to say? You either got it or you don’t. If you didn’t know what it was before this song, now you do.
Kids In The Street - Justin Townes Earle
Justin Townes will always be remembered as a troubled genius of his songwriting generation. As such, his legacy will always be shadowed by his premature passing, but no less diminishes his contribution to bringing the story into the song.
This dude has been a Nashville staple for many years, I think the first time I saw him was at a Lightning 100 event way back when…his consistency as an artist is matched only by the steadiness of his no frills rock sound, which he has cultivated so well in a town whose moniker Music City ought to demand more than just honky tonk and bubblegum country.
Legacy of John Prine
The man, the master storyteller! His beloved legacy in Nashville is in the great hands of his sons and I consider folks’ comparisons of our stylings the absolute highest of compliments. What he has brought to songwriting may never be replicated, and it would behoove every writer to ask themselves, “what would John Prine do” whenever they put pen to paper.
A record of homecomings and goings, the travels of the hometown kid are fueled by my own taste of road dogging the last couple years. I’ve yet to embark on a full tilt, multi-month run, and as much as it is certainly part of the dream, you are either made for it or you aren’t. And if you aren’t you power through anyway.
Nashville as a Home
Nashville has been and will be a thread in the fabric of virtually everything I write. And it’s a unique perspective I feel called to weave into the genre of country, as well as the overarching patchwork of music produced in this town and furthermore the South. That being said, the message of journeying home and finding oneself on The Hometown Kid is meant to encompass everyone’s own experiences with where they come from.
Running On Empty - Jackson Browne
One of the best live records of all time, constantly playing in my house, car, and in my head. Another unmistakeable vibe, complete with storytelling and great playing.
Isbell’s one of those writers so skilled in his language that, similar to Dylan, folks who consider themselves storytellers would be wise to draw inspiration from him. The sonic accomplishments of his records is unmatched but it’s the way he tells his story that as a younger writer I consider nearly every song its own masterclass.
From The City Below The Hills - Houndmouth
A fun, Midwestern rock meets pop record that came along at a formative time during my college years when I was just starting to hear a voice in my head that whispered, ‘create your own sound’. This record has lived in every car I’ve owned, and via probably millions of listens I’ve gleaned important tools on how to devise song hooks without sacrificing originality.