“Took a whole lot of miles to know what I know now,” sings Will Hoge on “Growing Up Around Here,” the opening track off of his tenth studio album, Small Town Dreams. “I’m kinda proud of growing up around here.” It’s been a whole lot of miles, indeed: miles on the road, driving the bus himself from venue to venue since the nineties; miles to and from Nashville writing rooms, where he’s spent countless hours penning songs – some for him, some for others; miles exploring lands outside of his native Franklin, Tennessee, chasing the spirits of his musical heroes. Roads meet, roads split, roads led to home. This is the album that follows them all, every twist and turn in Hoge’s American journey – a journey that’s positioned him as one of our keenest, most honest modern storytellers, telling both his tale and ours.
“It’s a reflection of where I am currently in my life,” says Hoge of Small Town Dreams, “but also where I grew up, and, ultimately, where I think I’m going.” From the streets of the town where he was raised, to the sidewalks of cities a hundred times the size, we all have dreams; and these are the stories of growing up, looking back and passing on those dreams, told as only Hoge can. Nostalgia, in his hands, is truly magic.
An extremely prolific songwriter with ten albums under his belt and countless songs written for others (including a Grammy nomination for Eli Young Band’s number-one hit, “Even If Breaks Your Heart,” co-written with Paslay), Hoge saw this next phase of his journey as an opportunity to explore even deeper into both his country and rock & roll roots. Never fitting particularly neatly into a genre box, he’s always just made the music that moved him – but it’s safe to say that he feels more kinship with the country community than ever, particularly as a storyteller.
Dan Layus, primarily known as the frontman of the critically acclaimed band Augustana, is set to release his debut solo album, ‘Dangerous Things,’ out October 21, 2016 on Plated Records/ADA.
‘Dangerous Things’ spans influences from Hank Williams to Tom Waits, from Dwight Yoakam to Woody Guthrie. The album was recorded in Nashville at SouthxSea Studios with minimal production. The lyrics are about life’s struggles and its simple joys, and harmonies are provided by Muscle Shoals’ own The Secret Sisters.
Of the new music, Layus explains, “I always knew this album was out there
waiting, I just had to let it come to me. That was the most challenging part of this record. It was three years of repeatedly realizing I was trying too hard to write a perfect song. It all started to make sense and feel good as soon as I stopped treating songwriting like it was songwriting. Somewhere along the way I decided that if an idea was going to turn into a song on this album, then it had to be written organically and purely. It had to be an inspired moment that was unfolding melodically, musically and lyrically, all while making me feel something. Subsequently, that’s how I recorded the songs — I played the song live a few times in front of some microphones and when I felt something real happen, we moved onto the next one. The songs and recordings on this album are inspired by other people’s stories and informed by my own experiences and I’ve never felt more proud or comfortable sharing an album as I feel with this one.”
Layus spent 12 years as the creative force behind American roots-rock band Augustana. After years of grueling touring which took them from basements to amphitheaters, the band as unit had run its course and disbanded. Layus decided to keep the name and subsequently released another album and toured twice more as Augustana. In 2013 he moved to Nashville and found an immediate home in the songwriter community, penning songs for Platinum country artists and pop artists alike. In this new endeavor he also found something even more valuable — the new sound he had been searching for and scratching at since the inception of Augustana.