Monday, November 18, 2013
– Americana artist Will Kimbough will drop "Sideshow Love" on Feb. 18, 2014.
"A good album really should be like a volume of short stories," Kimbrough said. "It should have a beginning and an end, and what happens in between is up for grabs, as long as it fits the theme. The idea of this album is that everybody wants somebody to love and somebody to love them, and what you get when you find that is a lot of responsibility. If it's going to succeed, you've got to work it out over the long haul."
Kimbrough anchored the disc on Home Economics, a cynical, tongue-in-cheek take on the differences between men and women inspired by a friend's divorce. The tune employs a 1920s New Orleans string band jazz sound conjured by Kimbrough's banjo and slide guitar and Paul Griffith's dusty snare drum. Lisa Oliver Gray, who completes the album's core trio, adds her voice.
"When I wrote that song I knew that I really had something. It felt like an album could be built around it," Kimbrough said. "So I started going through the 50 or 60 songs I'd written over the past few years and began pulling together the ones that seemed to fit."
Kimbrough had accumulated those songs while playing guitar in Emmylou Harris' band. "The songs I was culling combined elements of blues and country, and there was a vein of soul music running through a lot of them, which all made sense to me, because I've always been eclectic and I enjoy those styles a lot. Between that music and The Beatles is where I usually gravitate."
"I didn't want these stories to have an unhappy ending, so I chose 'Emotion Sickness' as the last tune," Kimbrough relates. It's a country song with a strong soul feel conjured by the gentle tremolo of Kimbrough's electric guitar, an airy arrangement and a molasses pace that underscores the promise of heartbreak's passing.
Kimbrough produced and recorded most of the album in his home studio, which he's primarily used for demos in the past. He played acoustic and electric guitars, banjo and mandolin. In addition to kit drums, Griffith added Indian clay pot to Let the Big World Spin, a riff-mad blues about lust and sex. Griffith is a frequent collaborator of Kimbrough's who has played on all of his albums since 2006's "Americanitis" and a fellow member of the band DADDY. He has also joined Kimbrough on stage or in the studio with Harris, Snider and many others.
Kimbrough released "Wings" about four years ago. He spent most of the time since early 2011 traveling with Harris. Kimbrough has also provided plenty of self- and co-penned cuts for a list of artists that includes Little Feat, Jack Ingram and a dozen numbers cut by Jimmy Buffett.
"To have an ongoing relationship at that level in this business is really a gift," Kimbrough said.
"I've learned a lot about how to conduct myself in front of an audience," Kimbrough said. "I've seen stars backstage totally freaked out about not knowing the lyrics to a song, and then step into the spotlight looking totally cool and collected. You've got to take away the fear. And Rodney taught me that you've got to write every day - even on the days when you can't sit down in a room by yourself with a note pad for three hours. You've got to keep your eyes and ears open 24/7, and when something interesting happens or gets said, write it down. I try to write a song first thing every morning, just to keep my chops up."
He traces the beginning of his rich and varied career back to his 12th birthday, in 1976 when his parents bought him a $20 electric guitar and amp and a ticket to see Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run" tour at the local theater in his native Mobile, Ala.
"That was a big deal, because my mom and dad had spent $32.50 on my presents, which was a lot for them, and from that day on I've never had a job except for playing guitar and writing songs," Kimbrough says. "They probably figure that was the best or worst $32.50 they every spent."
In the early '80s Kimbrough moved to Nashville with his first original band, Will and the Bushmen, and was quickly signed to a major label deal. "We were swallowed up and passed out the other side," he said, chuckling. Next came the Bis-quits, with fellow songwriting kingpin Tommy Womack.
Kimbrough met Todd Snider on the same night the Bis-quits signed their record deal. They quickly became co-writers and musical compadres. Their collaboration has yielded a host of songs and two Kimbrough-produced Snider albums, "East Nashville Skyline" and "The Devil You Know."
Kimbrough began his string of solo albums with "This," released in 2000. Since then he's formed another band with Womack, DADDY, that's cut two albums.
Kimbrough's recently added another band to his resume. Willie Sugarcapps, an aggregation of all-star indie songwriters that also features Grayson Capps, Corky Hughes, and Anthony Crawford and Savana Lee of the duo Sugarcane Jane, was formed last year after a particularly fertile meeting at a songwriter's night at the Frog Pond in Silverhill, Ala. The group released a self-titled debut album in August.
"I have a lot going on and I work really hard, and I value the time I have with my family," Kimbrough said. "But I think that if I worked in an office at a day job somewhere I'd work just as hard at that. So when it comes to taking on new projects like Willie Sugarcapps or playing with artists of the stature of Emmylou or working on new projects with Todd, I consider all of those things opportunities - to write new songs, to grow, to make new albums. That's all I've ever wanted to do."