Award-winning songwriter Kendell Marvel has written hits for Chris Stapleton, George Strait, Jamey Johnson, and more. This month he made his solo debut with LOWDOWN & LONESOME, a concept album, produced by Keith Gattis, that is reminiscent of the classic country greats combined with a southern rock edge. The ten tracks, including nine originals and one cover, take the listener on a journey of heartbreak, vices and points in between. Recently, Marvel graciously took some time to answer a few questions about the album via email.
As a well-regarded songwriter, was being an artist and releasing your own album always a goal or desire of yours? And if so, why was now the right time to finally release your debut album?
I originally moved here to be an artist, but songwriting took off for me. I saw credible acts such as Cody Jinks, Jason Isbell, and Chris Stapleton having success without mainstream radio and thought now is the time if I’m ever gonna do it.
Lowdown & Lonesome is, of course, the opening track on the record, but why did you choose that song, about hitting rock bottom, for the album’s title?
We set out to make a concept record - I thought Lowdown & Lonesome was a great tune to build the record around. In all songs on the album, I’m either lowdown or I’m lonesome.
The album features all-star players and was produced by Keith Gattis. Why did you want to work with him and what did he bring to the project?
Keith and I are old friends and I have always loved the way his records sound. I knew he was the only guy who could make the kind of record I wanted to make.
Were all of these songs recently written, ones you had in your pocket, or a combination? And were there any songs that you specifically wrote awhile back and saved for your own project?
They were a combination of songs. Some are several years old. Some Keith and I wrote for the record. I never sat on songs. When you’re a professional songwriter, all songs are available.
Was there one song that was more difficult to come together than the others and if so, was there an “a-ha” moment when you knew it was finally perfect?
Not really, Keith and I work so well together. We knew what we wanted and it was pretty easy to write.
You wrote all of the tracks except the closer, “Drinkin My Baby Goodbye.” Why did you choose to record that song with Jamey and place it last?
Jamey and I are old friends as well. We had cut nine songs and were trying to decide on the last one. Keith recommended we cut a song like “Drinking My Baby Goodbye” and I said, “ Why don’t we just do that one?” Since Jamey and I are both Charlie Daniels fans, it seemed like the logical song to have him sing on.
There’s really a balance of tempos on the album, but a lot of it thematically has to do with love and heartbreak. One of my favorites is, “Hurtin Gets Hard” Can you relay the story behind the song?
‘Hurtin’ Gets Hard’ is one of those songs that everyone can relate to. We’ve all been there. Put up a good front in a crowd and then fall apart when we get home. It’s my wife’s favorite song on the album, too.
What’s ahead for you professionally for 2017?
I’ll continue to write songs and play anywhere they’ll have me.
Finally, is there one recent release, any genre, that you cannot stop listening to and recommend others check out?
Travis Meadows’ new album, First Cigarette.
For more information visit his official website
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Purchase Lowdown & Lonesome HERE