"Ain't we all the stars playing the leading part in our own soap opera?" Brandy Clark belts out that question to kick off Big Day in a Small Town, positing the premise of not just the opening track ("Soap Opera"), but all 10 songs that follow it. The towns that anchor Clark's new album may be small enough to warrant only a single blinking light, but the lives lived in them are anything but... and neither are the hopes and dreams that rise from their backroads and bedrooms.
When you grow up in a small town, oftentimes, your dreams are all you have. Whether it's to become a football star or a father, a homecoming queen or a hairdresser, your dreams might be the only thing that keep you going. For Clark, the dream she harbored in her small hometown of Morton, Washington, was to be a country singer. Sure, once she moved to Nashville, she had successful cuts as a songwriter [The Band Perry's "Better Dig Two," Miranda Lambert's "Mama's Broken Heart," and Kacey Musgraves' "Follow Your Arrow" which won the CMA Song of the Year Award in 2014], but being an artist in her own right was a dream she had stopped dreaming until three years ago when her first album, the stunning 12 Stories, debuted.
At the time, it was a passion project, more than anything... a passion project that went on to become a GRAMMY- and CMA-nominated release that topped a myriad of "Best Albums of 2013" lists; earn her opening slots on tours with Eric Church, Jennifer Nettles, and Alan Jackson; land her performances onThe Ellen DeGeneres Show , Good Morning America, The Late Show with David Letterman, and a much-talked about collaboration with Dwight Yoakam on the 2015 GRAMMY Awards in recognition of her nomination in the all-genre Best New Artist category; and win her a Warner Bros. Records deal. Now, as she gears up for her sophomore set, the alternately feisty and poignant Big Day in a Small Town, Clark has much higher hopes.
"When I made 12 Stories, I think my dreams were a lot more realistic, in that I didn't expect a lot to happen... then it did," she says. "This time, my dreams are very much what they were when I was going to Vince Gill and Patty Loveless concerts and decided I was going to move to Nashville. Right now, my dreams are as big as when I was naïve enough to really dream them."
Produced by Jay Joyce [Little Big Town, Eric Church], Big Day in a Small Town tells the stories of the football star, the father, the homecoming queen, and the hairdresser because those are the stories and people that Clark grew up knowing. "All these songs, there's some little truth in them, somewhere, that resonates with me or that is about me," she confesses. Explaining the genesis of "Soap Opera," she offers, "When I would get worried about what people thought of me or what was going on with me, my mom would always say, 'You know, we're all the star of our daytime drama. We're just bit players in someone else's. Nobody cares that much about what's going on with you. They'll only care until there's something juicier going on with somebody else two weeks later.'"
But Clark cares enough about all of these characters to tell their stories: the aging beauty of "Homecoming Queen" who wonders what happened to the life she always wanted... the tempted exes of "You Can Come Over" who do all they can to not get burned by the flame that flickers between them... the heartbroken heroine of "Daughter" who wishes a bit of karmic justice on her ex in the form of a daughter who's "just as sweet as she is hot"... the defiant wild child of "Girl Next Door" who refuses to fit her lover's misguided notion of womanhood.
See Charlie Worsham on a stage and you immediately understand what he understood from the beginning: It's where he's meant to be. For him, music wasn't just a thing, it was the only thing. "I kind of feel like I didn't have much choice. The songs... the playing... those were the only things that ever really kept my attention." As a ridiculously talented multi-instrumentalist and student of great songs, he's developed a unique modern country sound built around the traditional acoustic instruments he grew up on.
Starting in his hometown of Grenada, Mississippi, Charlie was always out playing somewhere. From the Opry at age twelve to the local Missionary Baptist Church to the back-road blues joints he wasn't even supposed to know about, much less play in, wherever he found a stage, he played. And when he wasn't playing, he was listening to everything from Don Williams to Tom Petty to Earl Scruggs. With his energy and showmanship onstage and his understated Mississippi "yes sir" and "no ma'am" offstage, it's easy to understand why so many in Nashville's music community are rooting for him.
Charlie is currently writing and recording to finish out his major label debut album for Warner Music Nashville. After studying at Berklee School of Music in Boston, he moved South to Nashville. For the last two years, he's divided his time between writing songs, being an in-demand studio musician for other artists and playing his music live — sharing stages across the country with Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert and others.
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