Grant Gilbert is yet another up and coming singer-songwriter out of Lubbock. Gilbert was raised in the small town of Santo, Texas but came out to Lubbock to attend Texas Tech University. Like many of his contemporaries, Gilbert had already been picking and playing before heading off to Lubbock. But it wasn’t until arriving that Gilbert truly began honing his craft as a songwriter and performer. On this episode, we talk with Gilbert about paying his dues in Lubbock, being invited into the 806 Songwriter group, his debut EP, his upcoming full-length album, and the music that has helped shape his style, sound, and writing. At the end, he performs the song “Hub City Shakedown.”
by: Thomas D. Mooney
Those early years of college can be strange days. You’re in this shifting period where you’re still attached to the steady, reliable hands of home and going out into the unknown of being on your own. In many respects, you’re still a child having to adjust to adult situations on the fly. There’s butterflies that wax and wane as you’re lost in the transition.
On Grant Gilbert’s debut EP, Lost in Transition, the Lubbock singer-songwriter is slowly, but surely finding his footing as an up-and-comer. Throughout the five-tracks, Gilbert traverses and endures varying degrees of heartbreak and heartache.
At times, it’s simple. It’s adolescent and youthful. They aren’t in it for the long haul and know it. Other times, like the standout “Time Well Wasted,” Gilbert’s not as light-hearted. There’s moments where maturity and growth supersede jealousy and envy.
Recorded at Mount Vernon Studios (Dalton Domino’s 1806, Benton Leachman’s Bury the Hatchet) with a veteran cast of musicians (Jon Taylor, Brian McRae, Billy McLaren, and Lora Markham all appear), Lost in Transition, for the most part, has a robust pulse throughout. And while songs are most certainly fleshed out, they’re never too crammed, covering up, or distracting us from Gilbert’s storytelling.
Like with any debut, there’s hits and misses. There’s bits that you can nitpick. The chorus lines and the story arcs within the songwriting of Lost in Transition are strong and able. Overall, Gilbert–who’s still just north of twenty-years-old–has a strong launching point in the steady Lost in Transition.
We caught up with Gilbert earlier this week to discuss the release of Lost in Transition, songwriting, and his time here in Lubbock. Lost in Transition is officially out this Wednesday, January 25, but you can stream the EP in its’ entirety now below.
New Slang: You’ve been here in Lubbock the last couple years trying to juggle school and getting your foot in the door in the local music scene. There’s always setbacks and little breakthroughs when you’re trying to establish yourself. Has knowing that such a rich tradition of songwriters doing the same thing here in Lubbock been a source of inspiration when things have been tough?
Grant Gilbert: Yes, it has been a great source of inspiration for me. I look up to every one of those guys and feel honored just to be considered a Lubbock songwriter. I try my best to write the best songs I possibly can and always try to keep as much lyrical integrity as I can–to represent the music scene I am very proud to be a part of. There is no easy way or right way of going at this. We’ve been trying to find our way while now playing songwriter nights at the Blue Light on Mondays and playing gigs every chance we can. I listen to all those guys’ music, and I try to pick their brains and learn what I can from them to help me hone my craft. Having guys like we do in the Lubbock music scene is really great for us young songwriters.
NS: Feels like some things are starting to come together these last few months with you making the Finals in the last Blue Light Singer-Songwriter Competition and the release of this debut EP. But were there any times before then when you were beginning to get a little antsy and wanting to get a release of any kind out, even though it could have just been a collection of songs that weren’t cohesive or good?
GG: Of course. Going into the studio and recording, it’s something I have wanted to do since day one. We do have some recordings that were done on a very low-budget that were done in more of a demo style that were never released. Looking back, I’m thankful that they weren’t. I got very antsy at times and I’m glad I stayed patient up to this point. I’ve always been told you only get one chance to make a first impression, so I really wanted to make this first release a quality one, and one that I am truly proud of. I funded this EP 100% on my own and I’m very proud of that because it is paid for solely from playing shows. I took my time and tried to work with the best people I could to make this happen, and I think the timing is right and the songs were there we went into the studio and made it happen.
NS: A lot of these songs, they all deal with varying degrees of heartache. You’re obviously connected to each of them, but which still cuts the deepest for you on a personal level?
GG: “Time Well Wasted” is the one that gets to me the most–especially when singing it on stage. I wrote it during a time when I was truly feeling every word I wrote down on that paper. It is by far my favorite song to play every night off of the EP because it really does put me back in the place I was when I wrote it. To me, that’s the beauty of music.
NS: That song, “Time Well Wasted,” it feels like there’s some form of closure within it. It’s almost as though you’re walking away from the situation. Kind of the opposite of “Like I’m Your Whiskey” where you’re still holding on to any strand of a chance.
GG: Those are two very different songs for me. “Like I’m Your Whiskey” is pretty light-hearted. It’s one where you’re getting used, but you’re alright with it because you’re also getting something out of it. “Time Well Wasted” is one about how you gave it all, but you don’t have any regrets over it, and you’re right it does feel like you are walking away from the situation and looking back on it all. That’s exactly what I was doing when I wrote it. I put like “Time Well Wasted” at the of the EP just because I felt like it kind of wrapped up the whole little story of the album and brought it back full circle.
NS: Your buddy and fellow songwriter Dylan Price has been working around Lubbock as well. How beneficial has it been for the both of you being able to bounce songs off one another?
GG: Dylan and I have grown up together in every way since we were old enough to write our name to now. We’ve been playing shows together since we were 16. He plays lead guitar for me now and does his own project, playing shows on the side too. We are constantly writing songs and bouncing ideas off of each other, or helping one another in the scene. We’re roommates and always have a guitar around somewhere trying to whittle out something. I owe that guy a lot to be honest with you. He’s been by my side in some crazy situations and in some of the roughest dive bars you can imagine. I really like Evan Felker and he really likes John Fullbright. We look up to them a lot–so sometimes I just like to pretend we’re like them–just on a much smaller scale of course [laughs].
by: Thomas D. Mooney
With EPs like SPiVEY’s Chief’s Hideout and Sugarwitch’s Fancy Practice sneaking their way into the final weeks of 2016, these first 13 days of 2017 has mainly been Panhandle artists and bands gearing up for the year with songwriters Davis Alan, Cody Jasper, Delbert McClinton, and Hayden Pedigo all releasing preview single(s) for larger releases in the coming weeks and months.
Below, we’ve highlighted what’s caught our ears so far. For an always updated Spotify playlist of music released this year, click here.
“Searching for Gold”
“Searching for Gold” is the most recent preview of Davis Alan’s upcoming album, Bad Luck Story. The Stephenville-to-Lubbock transplant has been working with a Who’s Who of Texas musicians on the project, including guitarist/producer Josh Serrato behind the board. While still certainly green, at this juncture in his early career, Alan’s strength as a songwriter is his ability to deliver a hook–something “Searching for Gold” and first single, “The Flood” have in spades.
Just a few days back, Amarillo singer-songwriter Cody Jasper uploaded a handful of songs onto his Soundcloud. It’s safe to say they’ll all eventually make their way onto Jasper’s sophomore record–something he’ll be finishing up before Summer 2017. While there’s still that rock flair we’ve grown to expect from Jasper (“Panhandle Pearls” and the slow burning groover “Along For the Ride”), there’s certainly a down home country feel to tunes like “Good Day” and “Jesus Drank Wine.” With previously shared songs “Love is Overrated” and “Panhandle Ramblin'” in the can, Jasper’s next release looks and sounds promising. We’ve conveniently thrown the lot into a playlist below.
“Don’t Do It,” “Like Lovin’ Used to Be,” and “Doin’ What You Do”
Long time country-blues-rock pioneer Delbert McClinton has released three singles–“Don’t Do It,” “Like Lovin’ Used to Be,” and “Doin’ What You Do”–to preview his upcoming full-length record, Prick of the Litter, due out January 27. This being his 19th studio record finds McClinton venturing down a bluesy jazz road. “Like Lovin’ Used to Be” is easily one of McClinton’s smoothest and laid back tunes. The newest of the three, “Doin’ What You Do,” takes McClinton’s signature voice and wailing harmonica and throws it on one of his most beautifully arranged and sleek-grooved tunes in years.
Earlier this week, Amarillo guitarist Hayden Pedigo released a two-track surprise in 4VR. Described by Pedigo as a tribute to Vini Reilly and The Durutti Column, the English songwriter’s band. As you’d expect, the two demoesque instrumental recordings are heavily influenced by the dream pop landscapes laid down by the post punk outfit.
For Chief’s Hideout, Lubbock folktronica singer-songwriter (Ryan) SPiVEY took to the Colorado wilderness. Recorded at a family cabin over the course of four days, Chief’s Hideout gains an added boost from the natural reverb evoked from the secluded cabin’s walls. Spivey and co-producer David Wilkinson tapped into warm, haunting echoes and howls. Chief’s Hideout feels more layered and full than Spivey’s debut, the still excellent Lungs, Heart, & Hands. It’s neither too convoluted or wrapped up in itself for the sake of pompous vain. Spivey’s songwriting has room to breathe. Throughout, he shows that his lyricism would shine through in any style, none better than the lonesome roaming of “No Reason.”
Four-piece Lubbock rockabilly outfit Sugarwitch released Fancy Practice in the last week’s of 2015. Much like their ’14 full-length I’m Sorry, Mom, Fancy Practice‘s strengths are vocalist and chief lyricist Jessica Robinson’s sense of humor and scorching howl–that’s, at times gravelly, and at times, a full on growl. Plenty of jumping bass lines litter the five-track EP. Guitarist Brian Duhan’s guitar doesn’t come in guns a-blazing like it did on I’m Sorry, Mom. Instead, he comes in with sharper, Spaghetti Westernesque lines that burn far longer.
Other Notes of Interest
- Texas singer-songwriter Grant Gilbert has announced his debut EP, Lost in Translation, will be out January 25th. Preorder here.
- Earlier this week, Dalton Domino announced Corners, his follow-up to 2015’s breakout debut 1806, will be officially released April 28th.
- Cowboy Songster Andy Hedges has recently announced Cowboy Recitations, a collection of spoken word cowboy poems has collected over the years. While the album hasn’t made its’ way to iTunes just yet, you can find the record on Hedges’ website here.
- Speaking of Hedges, he has also recently launched Cowboy Crossroads, a podcast that’ll feature interviews with cowboy poets, songsters, storytellers, songwriters, collaborators, and well, cowboys. Subscribe on iTunes here.
- William Clark Green has slowly, but surely sharing songs that’ll be included on his TBD fifth studio album, tentatively slated for a late 2017/early 2018 release. Songs like “She Loves Horses,” a co-write with Jay Clementi and Trent Willmon, and “Drunk Again,” a co-write with Brandon Adams (and myself providing cigarette and beer runs), making their way into acoustic sets as of late, it’s “My Mother” that’s found most notoriety so far. Watch an acoustic rendition of the tune recorded recently at Billy Bob’s below.