To make their new album, the members of the multi-platinum, two-time Grammy Award-winning Old Crow Medicine Show didn’t just do things their own way. They built their own studio, one closer to the clubhouse than the recording den and a place where they felt at home.
It was at Hartland Studio in East Nashville, which the band acquired and began building to their exact specifications in 2020, where Old Crow recorded their seventh album, paint this town. And it was the first time since the late ’90s, when the band members snagged a solo mic in their rehearsal room and went straight to a four-track, that they created a record in a space that was only ‘their.
paint this town is an album that explores the rich history of American country and roots music without hesitation for the darkest corners of the South. The album is full of stompers and moments of pure elation right alongside intimate character studies and songs that tackle more current themes. And it does what Old Crow has always done with such aplomb: look within to examine the pitfalls and practices of modern relationships.
The song “Honey Chile”—which Garden and Gun is proud to present below – paints an image of nostalgia, evoking a time, and perhaps a person, from the narrator’s past. Musically, the song is a kind of salvo for the whole of paint this town, rolling out of the gates with a bold swell before settling into a traditional Americana-tinged groove. But as the band’s fans might expect, a propulsive rock and roll feeling lurks just around the corner, showcasing Old Crow’s uncanny ability to make music that honors the past just as much. she looks to the future. It’s a balance found everywhere Paint this town, which also features a few new members, including drummer and mandolin player Jerry Pentecost and multi-instrumentalists Mike Harris and Mason Via.
Watch the video for “Honey Chile” – filmed at Hartland Studio – below. And read on to hear Old Crow frontman Ketch Secor on the recording of the album. paint this town releases April 22 and is available for pre-order here.
What role did owning your own studio play in making this record?
Well, it’s in a place that’s always been on our map, as it’s in a hallway in East Nashville where we used to stay. We have been walking past the building for over twenty years. We filled it with great stuff, wrote a lot of great songs in it, put a lot of sweat into it, and made it a great place to make music and keep the spirit of a band of twenty-three alive. years. . We used the disc to prepare the studio. It’s kind of like how Old Crow used the corner for training. We would hit the pavement, and that would be the practice.
Playing live has of course been uncertain over the past two years. I imagine there is a lot of anticipation to bring this album to the stage.
This is the fastest time from recording to release that we have ever had in twenty-three years. And that’s because Covid allowed us to make this record without all the distractions of touring. Some of the songs have larger arrangements, which has a lot to do with our partner Jerry Pentecost, who has been with the band for about four years now. But this is the first time our band has a full-time drummer, so it’s going to raise a lot of excitement on stage.
There’s a pervasive sense of yearning for home on this album, especially on a song like “Honey Chile.” Not home in the physical sense as much as home as a concept. Tell me a bit about that.
Home is always one of the themes I tend to write about. My home is an American roots music landscape, and it’s a very expansive soundscape that’s very grounded in the southern United States. Maybe I’ll take you to Big Sandy, where the opioid epidemic is killing people left and right. Or I could take you to the Delta, where a new Mississippi flag is being designed. And either way, I’m just doing my best to show you what I’ve seen on my travels over the past twenty years as I’ve tried to make these ramblings my own.
Do you consider the new studio as your new home?
When I think of having a studio, it just makes me think of [record producer and singer/songwriter] Cowboy Jack, who actually lived in his studio. And I think about what it’s like to have your life and your work exist in the same space. It’s not exactly the same for us, but it’s about as close to getting to work as soon as you get out of bed. I really like to keep things close like that, that homey feeling; that’s where the heart is.