Shelby Lee Lowe is beginning to gain some real traction in the traditional country music community.
His self-titled debut album, released in 2016, feels like a throwback to 90s era country. Now, in 2018, he is back with new music; the fan favorite “Lock It Down,” and the upcoming “Love to Live By” (May 11).
I recently had a chance to talk with Lowe about his beginnings in the music industry, some of his standout songs to date, and what is coming next for the Lewisburg, Tennessee native.
JL: Who were some of your biggest musical influences growing up?
SLL: Growing up, my parents listened to a lot of oldies radio; so I remember hearing lots of Elvis Presley, CCR, James Taylor, and stuff like that as a young child. My great uncle taught me Folsom Prison on guitar, and my dad had a Hank Williams CD that we listened to a lot. That’s where I fell in love with country music.
JL: Was there a specific moment you knew you wanted to make music for a living?
SLL: I tried out for a singing competition when I was 19 at a local mall, and wound up in the top two out of 50 or so people. One of the judges told me they could see me being a star and being on TV someday. That experience gave me the confidence to go to college for music business and pursue music for a career.
JL: You wrote 11 of the 13 tracks on your debut album. How important was it for you to get as much of “you” on your debut release as possible?
SLL: For my debut album, I think I was still figuring out who I was as an artist and a songwriter. Songs like “History”, “At It Again”, and even “Double Wide Love” felt real to my life or the people around me in my hometown. I definitely wanted it to be as traditional as possible, because that’s what I grew up on.
JL: “’Till My Memories Run Dry” is one of my personal favorites on your debut album. That’s a pretty emotionally driven song on a mostly up-tempo record. Can you talk about the process of how this song was written?
SLL: The first line of that song popped in my head when I was getting out of the shower one day, “You ever look in the mirror and not like what you see.” From there, I came up with a song all about shame and guilt and feeling sorry for yourself, and drinking about it. I brought the hook idea and those lines to a co-write with Daniel Kleindenst and Mike Brandon. They convinced me that the song would be less depressing and more relatable if it was about a broken relationship. Daniel came up with that really sweet melody on the verse that gives the song some heart break.
JL: “History” was a song that really seemed to connect with your audience. How cool was it to be able to share your personal story with people and have it connect with people the way it has, as well as hearing stories from fans about their “History” and what the song has meant to them?
SLL: The idea for “History” came about when I found some old pictures of my grandparents partying at Big Jim’s Club which is currently called Momma’s County in my hometown. I brought the idea to my buddy Alex Dooley and started strumming some chords and Alex just spouted off the chorus. That song felt great to write and record, and the fact that people listen to it and watch my video for it and tell me it reminds me of their family makes me feel so good. My family has always been important to me, and I think it comes across in the song.
JL: “Lock It Down” is nearing 50,000 streams on Spotify. Why do you think this song connected with people the way it has so far?
SLL: “Lock It Down” is different than any song I’ve put out. I say it’s a modern country version of “Jesse’s Girl” by Rick Springfield. I think the content, production and melody lends itself to a younger streaming audience.
JL: You’ve performed with major artists such as the Charlie Daniels Band, Daryl Worley, and William Michael Morgan. What has been the most valuable lesson you have learned from sharing the stage with artists who have had such great success?
SLL: I’ve tried to watch how they interact with the fans when they are on stage. They all do such a good job of keeping their shows entertaining, and they make it seem seamless.
JL: Do you have a favorite song you’ve ever recorded? If so, which song and why is it your favorite?
SLL: It’s hard to pick a favorite song, but “History” is my most personal. It probably means the most to me.
JL: What are your thoughts on the current state of country music?
SLL: Country Music has changed considerably over the last decade. Mainstream country now days is a far cry from what I grew up on. I am not a fan of all of it, but I think there’s still great songs being written and there are artists that are making great traditional and modern country records.
JL: What is next for you and your career?
SLL: This month is a busy one for me! I’ll be touring in Texas next week, and I’ll be releasing my new single “Love to Live By” on May 11th on Spotify and ITunes and Apple Music. May 15th I’ll be on the Ty, Kelly and Chuck Morning Show for a ten-minute tune and I’ll be playing my new song live. That night, I’m playing the Historic 3rd and Lindsley venue in Nashville! The rest of the year, I’m playing shows all over the South Eastern United States.
*Featured image and “Love to Live By” art courtesy of Shelby Lee Lowe Facebook Page
*Self-titled album artwork courtesy of https://www.shelbyleelowe.com