INTERVIEW: Humbletown on “The Path I Chose To Walk”
Humbletown “The Path I Chose To Walk” [INTERVIEW]
Humbletown was born in a small town on the prairie and with the release of their new album “The Path I Chose to Walk,” they are moving toward a national following.
Haunting vocal harmonies, melodic clawhammer banjo, and high-energy flatpicking guitar showcase the songwriting talents of musicians Morgan Carnes and Dylan Lewis. They are inspired by traditional music rooted in the Appalachians, and their music reflects this influence as well as modern folk, bluegrass, and Americana undertones.
The Path I Chose to Walk is Humbletown’s debut album. The title “The Path I Chose to Walk” addresses the various choices and life events that lead us to where we are today. Every small decision or life event takes part in building the larger picture of your life. This album shares some snapshots from the lives of the songwriters.
Tell us a bit about your new album: The Path I Chose to Walk?
Through the process of recording this album we discovered our sound, which is raw, emotional, and diverse. While there is some similarity from song to song, we also break genres, and our material ranges from soft folk to hard-driving bluegrass to gypsy jazz. The album prominently features Dylan Lewis on flatpick guitar and Morgan Carnes on clawhammer banjo. This instrumentation leads us to create a unique sound which primarily combines the influences of old-time and bluegrass music. This album also features guest artists Tom Schafer on fiddle, Dalton Coffey on bass, dobro and mandolin, and Eddie
Ferris on bass.
What was your creative process/concept with this new album?
The title, ‘The Path I Chose to Walk’ refers to a line in the song “Vines” and addresses the decisions and life events that led us to where we are today. Each song on this album is a reflection of parts of our lives that have made us who we are. As we compiled the list of songs, the concept for the album came about organically, as we realized most of the songs we picked related to following our own paths.
We started recording the album before our first child was born, slightly before the 2020 pandemic, and finished the album while Morgan was pregnant with our second child. Many changes took place during this time, including voice changes, changes in our state of mind, and moving across the state. It’s interesting to us to see how those changes impacted our final album.
We wanted to put our best material forward and give it the best production that we could possibly get, which is why we hired our friend Dalton Coffey to produce our album. We were blown away by other projects that he produced and we wanted to see what he could do with our songs. During the process of recording, we really let Dalton take the reins to a large extent while we worked hard to deliver our best vocal and instrumental performances.
What did you learn about yourself/yourselves when writing and creating your new
We went through so much growth and change while creating this album. Many of the songs had been written before we started making music together and several came after. The original works were snapshots of us as individuals at that time, with the other bandmate coming in to add harmonies and the occasional suggested change of a chord or piece of melody. The newer songs were almost always written with the other bandmate close by, offering suggestions or helping with lyrics. In many ways, our songs have now become inseparable.
We have learned a lot about our strengths, both individually and as a band. Morgan is more inclined toward artful lyricism while Dylan is more entranced by a haunting melody. One of us hears harmonies and teaches them to the other. We both have great suggestions to improve each other’s lyrics and song
structure. For better or for worse, we are there to shoot down a song before it ever tries to fly.
The process of turning our art into an album was transformative, mostly because we brought in the very talented producer, Dalton Coffey. Through this journey we discovered that we have a rawness and vulnerability to our sound and our writing, and I think we are still wrapping our minds around what that means for our music.
What single is your favorite off your new album and why?
Vines is our favorite song off of the album, and I believe many people share this opinion. It’s one of Dylan’s older songs, written before we formed a band. It is a very well-composed, dynamic song. It is simple enough to be catchy but not redundant, and features beautiful instrumental components, which, when played live, change dramatically based on who is performing with us and what the mood of the stage and the room are. It is such a fun and captivating tune and we never get tired of playing it. The subject matter of the song is also important and very relevant to both of us (clearly since we named our album based on lyrics from this song). The song is about not wanting to realize one day that you’ve let your proverbial path grow over with vines, that we need to make sure we are always working toward living up to our fullest potential and fulfilling our dreams. We are both very passionate people, and this song is symbolic in more ways than one. The very act of pursuing music as a career is a choice to clear the vines from our path.
What is next for Humbletown? Any big plans?
We’re working on taking things to the next level with our music. We are finally able to concentrate on music first and foremost (after our two children, ten months and three years). We would like to play more festivals, both regionally and nationally. One driving factor for us is proving to ourselves and the world that it is possible to be professional musicians and parents. We want to bring our children along on our musical adventures, no matter where they take us. We took our children to five festivals last year and both of our children attended many of our shows as babies. Now we have the challenge of bringing them along with us as we grow and develop. Our children, of course, greatly impact the music we make and how we pursue our career. (Bringing Kids to Music Festivals: A Festy Guide)
In terms of sound, we are beginning to explore more of an old-time country feel while preserving our roots in clawhammer and flatpick guitar. Morgan wants to focus on developing powerful lyrics and digging into more guitar and Dylan plans to return to his childhood influences of old-time country greats such as Hank Williams, Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, Jimmie Rodgers, etc. Music has been a powerful and transformative journey for both of us, and we are looking forward to seeing where the next paths take us and our family.
Humbletown “The Path I Choose To Walk”
Recorded and produced by Dalton Coffey at Tenbrooks Studio All songs written and sung by Morgan Carnes and Dylan Lewis
Banjo and vocals – Morgan Carnes
Guitar, mandolin, and vocals – Dylan Lewis
Dobro, mandolin, and bass – Dalton Coffey
Bass – Eddie Ferris
Fiddle – Tom Schaeffer
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