Though he’s fairly new to the “solo artist” side of the music industry, Kendell Marvel has been very active and successful in the industry since the early 2000s.
Whether you’re aware of not, you’ve heard his songs. Whether it be Gary Allan’s top five hit “Right Where I Need to Be,” Chris Stapleton’s Grammy-winning “Either Way,” Jake Owen’s “Startin’ With Me,” or George Strait’s “Twang,” there’s a good chance you’ve enjoyed one of Marvel’s songs.
Marvel stepped into the spotlight with Lowdown & Lonesome in 2017, and made quite the impression. The album’s title track has been streamed over one million times on Spotify, and the other nine songs on the album have combined for well over a million streams as well.
Marvel is looking to continue his hot streak with his upcoming album Solid Gold Sounds. Set for release on October 11, the album is full of country-rocking tunes and a more tender side of Marvel than what was seen on Lowdown and Lonesome.
Before the release of Solid Gold Sounds, hear from Marvel about his early songwriting validation, making the transition into a solo artist, what listeners can expect on Solid Gold Sounds, his upcoming tour with Chris Stapleton and Brothers Osborne, and more!
Pro Country: Who were your biggest musical influences growing up?
Kendell Marvel: Willie, Waylon, Hank Jr, and Randy Travis.
PC: When did you realize that you wanted to pursue music as a career?
KM: It’s really all I’ve ever known. I never thought of doing anything else.
PC: You’ve had a handful of songs recorded by major artists, but perhaps none bigger than “Right Where I Need to Be” by Gary Allan, which you wrote on your first day in Nashville. What was it like to hear your song on the radio for the first time? Did that success give you any level of validation at that stage of your career?
KM: It was amazing. I was driving through Kentucky and it came on the radio. It absolutely gave me validation. I jumped line so to speak. I went from being a new writer to a guy with a hit. Looking back, I was really lucky. Right place, right time, with the right co-writer.
PC: After several years as a songwriter, you released your first album Lowdown & Lonesome in 2017. Were you feeling any kind of pressure, internally or externally, as you were preparing to release your own album?
KM: Not really pressure. I basically just didn’t want to have to write the kind of songs you have to write to get on country radio, so I thought I would make a record of music I wanted to make.
PC: Was it at all hard for you to make the transition from a songwriter who focuses on radio to writing for yourself on Lowdown & Lonesome?
KM: It was really a no brainer. I was always a performer, even when I was writing songs for others, and I wanted to write my kind of songs. Nobody else was gonna do ’em, so I thought I should.
PC: The song “Lowdown & Lonesome” has garnered well over one million streams on Spotify. What do you think it is about that song that has connected with people, and what has it meant to you to see the way people have reacted to it?
KM: It’s just a hard-driving, little rockin’ tune that resonates well with the people who come to our shows. I love the reaction it gets. I wrote it years ago with Randy Houser and Keith Gattis, and it was nice to see it find new life.
PC: What did you learn with the entire experience of releasing and promoting Lowdown & Lonesome that has helped you with the process of releasing your upcoming album Solid Gold Sounds?
KM: I learned I would rather someone else put it out because it’s a hell of a lot of work- ha! Nah, I’m kidding. It was really fun putting it out myself, but it’s more fun to watch the Easy Eye crew do their thing with the new record. They really know what they’re doin’. It’s all very exciting.
PC: What went in to the decision to release “Hard Time with the Truth” as the lead single from Solid Gold Sounds?
KM: We chose that one because this record is way different than my last one, and “Hard Time with the Truth” was somewhere in the middle between the two records. A little of the new sound and a little of the sound found on Lowdown & Lonesome.
PC: You worked with Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys on Solid Gold Sounds. How did working with Dan allow you to bring the best out of yourself on the new album?
KM: Dan just brings the best out of everyone in the studio. Him and Ferg (who produced the record with him) both got me to sing better than I think I ever have before.
PC: What can listeners expect to hear on the Solid Gold Sounds album? What do you hope they take away from it after listening all the way through?
KM: My fans can expect to hear rockin’ country music, and the record does that, but it also has a more tender side than the last record. I hope people listen and think it could’ve been recorded in 1975.
PC: You’ll be touring with Chris Stapleton and Brothers Osborne this year; both of whom are artists that have cut songs you were a writer on. What does it mean to you to have that opportunity with artists that have played great parts in your musical journey so far?
KM: Man this tour is gonna be so fun. Not only have we all written a ton of songs together, but we are also all really good friends. It means the world to me that they included me on this tour, because they sure didn’t have to.
PC: What are your plans for the rest of 2019 and beyond?
KM: I plan on spreading the country music gospel to anyone who will listen.
*Images courtesy of IVPR*