Tell us about your latest project?
My main goal with the new record was to have it sound a lot more like my live shows than my first album. I wanted it to be truer to who I am as a live artist. It has a kind of alt-country sound: There’s lots of acoustic guitar, pedal steel, piano, Wurlitzer, Hammond organ. I’d work at my full-time career job until 1 p.m., then head to the studio for 8 hours of work there. Clay pushed me to trust the music I’d written and to be okay with how I’d performed it that day. Most of the songs on Never Regret the Nights are about a relationship I was in a couple of years ago, but the last song “Happy,” is one of the first I’d ever written. The songwriting here is consciously more simple and direct than on my first record.
Who are your musical influences?
Everything but the Girl, Lori Carson, Roseanne Cash, Lone Justice, Lucinda Williams, David Gray, Jewel, Duncan Sheik, Tracy Chapman. I love 70s and mid-90s singer-songwriters. I like melodic, pretty music with introspective lyrics that tell some sort of story. Being from the bayous of Louisiana, I grew up around classic country, honky-tonk, earthy kind of music, and even though I disliked it at the time, I think it influenced me more than I realized because I’m constantly told there is a country sound to my singing voice.
Has living and working in Atlanta influenced your style or creativity?
Completely. Being in Atlanta really changed everything for me. The music community here has been so welcoming and supportive since day one. I remember the first time I saw Doria Roberts, she just unplugged her guitar at the end of her song “Perfect” and walked out into the audience at Red Light Cafe, still playing and singing. You could have heard a pin drop. I’d never seen anything like that before and that kind of confidence definitely impacted and inspired me in my 20s. The amazing Edie Carey lived here in Atlanta for a bit and talking about songwriting with her and watching her perform was probably the biggest creative influence…her mature songwriting and humorous stage presence guide me constantly still.
What’s on your iPod?
Gemma Hayes, Lucy Wainwright Roche, Robyn, Marina and the Diamonds, William Fitzsimmons, Laura Marling, Owen, Simply Red, the new Chase Coy, Olivia Broadfield, Tift Merritt, Ellie Goulding, and Tracey Thorn’s latest solo album, Love and Its Opposite.
What are you working on now?
I’m contributing lyrics to a song or two with a talented local saxophonist named Kenyon Carter, which is fun and different. He’s working on his debut and I’m hoping we can come up with something that makes the cut for his record. I’m also heading into the studio this summer to record two EPs with local musician/producer/cool guy Brian Slusher. One EP, will contain several songs from my first two CDs presented in a more stripped down, natural setting, as the songs have evolved over time, and I’d like to capture that. The second EP will be a batch of seven songs that I feel really strongly about. In contrast to the six-day schedule for Never Regret the Nights, we’re going to take it as it comes and work on it when we feel like it, which thrills me to no end. I remind myself often that this is supposed to be fun, and when it’s stressful, it’s time to re-evaluate.