The first time I saw Blackberry Smoke, I was blown away. Musically, they had all the trappings of a blues-inspired southern rock band complete with B3 organ pads and dueling electric guitars. But that’s not what immediately captured my attention. Rather, it was their polite irreverence; they stood barefoot and bell-bottomed in front of thousands of people and sang raw lyrics meant to be brutally honest but without intent to offend. At least that’s the way I was interpreting things.
I’ve been a songwriter for a long time, and like a lot of writers I have a particular style that I’ve developed over the years. It’s a style largely influenced by growing up in the northeast and listening to modern folk singers at cool music venues like Raoul’s Roadside Attraction in Portland, Club Passim in Boston, and The Bottom Line in New York. But the night I saw Blackberry Smoke, I was inspired to write something a little bit different--something politely irreverent. I came up with a song called “Catch Me If You Can”, and it’s the first song on the album Small Town Ways. The lyrics, stained with years of drinking and a handful of hard memories, are mostly true, partly stolen, and completely sincere.
The musical and lyrical departures were enjoyable for me, and while I’ll never be a bona fide southern rocker, it was fun to borrow that approach and apply it to this record. For me, “Catch Me If You Can” was the leaping off point for the rest of the songs on Small Town Ways. Some of the tunes, like “Old Octobers” and “Crazy Way Home”, harken back to my folksy, storytelling roots while others, like “Better Alone”, are a bit more jagged and coarse. Regardless, my hope is that all the songs on this album share some stories about where I’ve been and maybe even a bit about where I’m headed.