Singer-songwriter Tim McNary’s story is worthy of its own song – he’s lived a long life of adventure in a few short years. Born on the southside of Chicago, he was raised in a strict evangelical environment without secular music, followed his wanderlust to tiny seaside towns in South America, sang in a southern rock band along the eastern coast of the US, lived in his car in Atlanta, and eventually grew roots in Nashville, Tenn. His new EP,Above the Trees,combines songs chronicling those experiences and will be released March 4, 2016.
Recorded with producer Paul Warner between a mountain cabin in rural Georgia and East Nashville, Tenn., McNary’s album sounds like what might happen if Bon Iver went on a songwriting retreat with Josh Ritter – and spent a few nights in Brazil somewhere along the way.
“This record has a distinct sound because of the unique way it was recorded,” McNary said. “I’ve always wanted to make a record up in the mountains, undisturbed by the rest of the world and free to focus only on the music.”
Songs like “The Heist” and “Be With Me” conjure images of Latin American jungles and folklore, and draw on McNary’s memories from his years in Brazil.
“I spent most of my time studying Portuguese, reading novels and writing songs. I would ride my bike five miles to the poor part of town and give free English lessons to the kids who lived there,” McNary said. “I really didn’t want to leave that magical city. The combination of kind people, tropical weather, 16th century architecture and Afro-Brazilian culture really captivated me.”
After returning to the US and working in banking for a few years, McNary found himself disillusioned with achieving the American Dream. He eventually joined a southern rock band, before forming his own band and touring southeast playing a mixture of original and cover gigs. During that time, he had the opportunity to open for celebrated folk duo, the Civil Wars. Song like “Missus” and “The Other Man” detail McNary’s hardships while focusing on his career, but still dreaming of finding a partner.
“At the point when most of my friends were getting married and settling into the business world for the long haul, I was starting the artist’s life from scratch,” McNary said. “I didn’t feel like there was any other choice. I never stopped to consider what an impractical career others might perceive it to be.”
Before moving permanently to Nashville, McNary lived in his van for four months, tying up loose ends and fulfilling tour commitments. In an unfortunate turn of events, his van and musical equipment were stolen from a friend’s driveway in Atlanta. With no choice but to start over, he found a serving job at a Mexican restaurant in Nashville, rented a room and began the process of getting back on his feet.
After a year and a half of serving, McNary combined the money he saved with a Kickstarter campaign, joined forces with producer Paul Warner and recorded his third EP,Above the Trees.
The album is out March 4, 2015, with a release show the same night at Nashville’s famed venue, The Basement, at 7 p.m.
McNary will tour supporting the album, beginning on March 8th in Chattanooga and March 9th in Knoxville, with more dates to be announced soon.