Album: At Home In The Big Lonesome
Label: Atlas Aurora
Release date: November 3, 2017
Lots has happened to big Texan singer/songwriter/author Drew Kennedy since the release of his seventh album Sad Songs Happily Played in 2014. On the fist day of recording his eighth album in May of 2016 at Sony Tree in Nashville, his manager Scott Gunter interrupted the session: Kennedy had missed two calls and a text from his wife Holly. At just seven months pregnant, she’d gone into labor with their second son. “Scott helped me find a flight so I could go throw up in the bathroom,” Kennedy says. “I was so scared. It was a terrifying few hours until I could get home and look at her and just be there.”
This story has a good ending, however. While Oliver was born two months early and spent his first several weeks in the nearby neonatal children's hospital, Kennedy battled inner conflicts and real-life emotions that brewed internally. “It’s a really confusing tightrope I ended up walking,” Kennedy says. “I did not enjoy the guilt and anxiety that was created, when at the same time, I was watching my son flourish.”
Roughly 3 1/2 months later, Oliver was thriving, and Kennedy was ready to return to the studio. “I was really nervous I’d feel disjointed from all that work that’d been done without me there, even though there was still so much more to do,” Kennedy says. “It felt good to get back in and realize, No. These are your songs. Just because you had an emergency and those guys soldiered on without you doesn’t mean you’re not in this. It is you.” He pauses, then smiles. “In an odd way, it almost made the album even more personal because it was Dave’s and all the musicians’ way of being able to give all they had to support me, my family, and my art.”
The Dave that Kennedy refers to is producer Dave Brainard, the man behind such authentic country stars like Brandy Clark and Jamey Johnson. Kennedy says that, "even if he didn't make incredible records for incredible artists, I'd still want to hang out and talk philosophy and highways and music with the guy every chance I could."
The result is something remarkably Drew Kennedy. As he has proven time and time again on previous releases, his knack for storytelling and delivering incredibly smart songs that make you think and listen is among the best in Texas and beyond. There are no big radio anthems. The songs delivered are little vignettes on the human condition and consistently rate as this sites favorite releases. There's no surprise that Kennedy is also an author. His ability to capture emotive sharp imagery in his lyricism is profound.
Fueled by Kennedy’s character-driven songwriting and distinct vocals, the album is a confident foray into Kennedy’s most complex musical territory to date: lush piano pop, layers of strings, and dramatic percussion that nods more to the Wrecking Crew than any Texas playboys. “Dave said, ‘What do you want this to be?’” Kennedy says. “I said, ‘I want to make a sophisticated record for adults.’ We ended up making a record that’s so close to my personal listening taste––something I’ve never done before.”
“I try to make little movies,” Kennedy says. “I don’t try to create little episodes of the same TV shows with the same recurring characters. There’s a place for that, but I like to paint vignettes that stand on their own.”