Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Will We Ever Change?”?
“Will We Ever Change?” is all about capturing the essence of a story in musical form. I wanted the tension of the subject matter to be mirrored in the sonic landscape. You’ll hear a yearning harmonica at the top of the song. Towards the end, the music of the bridge peaks as the lyrics beg the song’s main question in repetition.
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
I wanted this song to be a snapshot. It comes straight from a real life situation in my marriage. The main subject of this track is a couple locked in a heated argument. It’s the kind of exchange where neither person will back down. A lot of songs will try to wrap up a conflict with a resolution and put a bow on it. I wanted to be very transparent in the showing of each person’s stubbornness and anger. Hopefully in that heated moment it shows the futility of argument without compromise.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
Yes. My band and I just recorded a live video for this single at Layman Drug Co. in Nashville, Tennessee. This is a beautiful, newly renovated studio close to downtown Nashville. It used to be an old drug store that they converted into a live video/studio space. Right now we are in the editing process. The video should be released in the next couple of weeks.
The single comes off your new self-titled album – why naming the album after yourself?
This album is a collection of songs that I’ve written over the past several years. Since moving to Nashville five years ago, I’ve had to reinvent myself several times. I’ve gone through many different bands over the years. This album feels like the sum of those years. It’s really my best foot forward. I am a big fan of Chris Stapleton’s album Traveller. For him those songs were simmering and being reworked for a long time. That’s sort of how I view these collection of songs. Some have been with me for a long time and others are brand new. All together I feel they represent me in the most complete way, and that’s why I decided to make this album self-titled.
How was the recording and writing process?
The recording process was very collaborative in a lot of ways. I recorded at Riverside Village Studios in East Nashville. This is a home studio that is run by two good friends of mine. Together they both co-produced this album. As I mentioned before, a lot of members from my band have changed over the past five years. My bass player moved to North Carolina, and my drummer moved home to be with his girlfriend. This album is a collection of the all the great musicians that I’ve met in Nashville. There are so many talented players on this record, and I’m so proud to call them friends too.
What role did the Midwest play on the writing of this record?
The Midwest is all over this record! Not only in lyrical content, but in sonic influence. I’ve been a huge Tom Petty fan for a long time and his influence runs through several of the songs. This album is a lot about marriage, starting a family, and the struggle of making a living while on the road. I feel that while these themes can be universal, they are also very specifically tied to the Midwestern perspective. This album is very much in the genre of Americana. I feel that it hascountry influences, but leans more towards the writing of artists like Jason Isbell and Ryan Adams.
What aspect of your life did you get to explore on this album?
I sort of run the whole gamut of my life on this album. There are songs about broken relationships in adolescence. Then as the maturing continues, I dive into themes of what it means to create a strong marriage. I also talk about my fears of living in Music City and the struggle of feeling unsuccessful. Then there is a song I wrote about my grandmother and the beautiful family she started that was so inspirational to me. So this album really covers a lot of my life.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes. My booking agent is currently working on getting the calendar together right now. We will be playing the Southwest and Midwest starting in mid-summer and going into the fall.
What else is happening next in Joel Levi’s world?