As we continue to navigate the polarizing, trying times that 2020 introduced us to, an escape is more than welcome; something that proves that maybe things aren’t as polarizing as they seem. Enter Drayton Farley and his new album, A Hard Up Life.
The success and response to the album’s debut single, “American Dream,” proves just that, and as Farley navigates his way through 14 tracks dealing with work life, vices, new beginnings and optimism, he also proves that people are more alike than they may think.
We chatted with Farley about how he handles success, many of the songs on the album and what he hopes listeners take away from it, his plans to grow this year and more!
Pro Country: You released your debut album, Hargrove & Sweet Southern Sadness- The Early Extended Plays in late July 2020, earned a combined 70,000 Spotify streams. Was it at all important to you to come out of the gate with that success?
Drayton Farley: That album is a merging of two previous EPs I had released in the last few years, I really just wanted to offer physical copies at some point and I found it would be easier to do so as one album instead of two separate extended plays.
As far as the importance of its success, I didn’t really think about it too much honestly. Of course I wanted people to hear it, but I wasn’t really feeling any pressure to push it or stress it too hard. People have seemed to really like the songs, so I’m very happy with it all!
PC: What drew you to release “American Dream” as the lead single to A Hard Up Life?
DF: I had written the song and really wanted to release something, so I just I released it as a single a few days before the election; a while before I had even decided to do the album. So it was already out there and I just put a different version on the new album. People really took to it so I figured they’d like to hear another recording of it on the record.
PC: “American Dream” has quickly earned nearly 200,000 streams on Spotify in just three months since its release. What do you think it is about the song that has allowed it to connect with listeners the way it has? Is there a certain level of validation that comes with seeing the success the song has had already?
DF: The response I got from “American Dream” was the first time I realized people truly felt the songwriting and that was a great feeling. The song is boldly politically charged, but it rides a fine line of dead-centered in a very polarized political climate. Lyrically, I tried to hold on to the truths I think most people believe. It’s been very interesting to see the response from both “far right” and “far left” folks; they’re all saying the same positive things about the lyrics and I think it shows that we’re not as separate as we’ve been led to believe we are as a nation.
PC: Both “Blue Collar” and “American Dream (Hard Up)” discuss unfairness in society, more specifically, work. Was having them back to back something that was done intentionally?
DF: They’re similar in sound and lyrical content and I didn’t want them to get lost in the middle of the album. I think they complement each other well and get the listener thinking early on into the record.
PC: What was it about “American Dream (Hard Up)” that drew you to have it serve as the title track of its record?
DF: It was really just chance, I’d released the single and the album was coming up afterwards so it just worked out!
PC: “Late Shift Break Hits” is one of many songs on A Hard Up Life that discusses vices and coping mechanisms. Is that a theme that you intentionally wanted to put into the record, or something that came together naturally as the songs came together?
DF: I never really thought about it, so I guess it just naturally happened. The entire album is a mix of songs I’d written at totally different times in life. I suppose it’s just a reflection of struggles I’ve faced as well as struggles I’ve watched friends and family face.
PC: “Take Me Back” is our favorite song on A Hard Up Life. Can you talk about the inspiration behind the song?
DF: That’s a song about wishing you could just go back to simpler times in life, before the world seemed to catch fire with all the negative things we’ve been dealing with lately. It’s something I know everyone is feeling, and I just wanted to share my thoughts on it on the album!
PC: “Atmosphere” is a song that discusses self-discovery, and may be one of the most optimistic sounding songs on A Hard Up Life. Can you talk about what that song means to you?
DF: I actually finished writing that song the day I recorded the album. I’ve been feeling way more optimistic these days about life and my situation in general. I suppose those feelings shine through in the song and that’s pretty interesting to see. I think that song was my way of reminding myself that things will start looking up if I let them, and to just be more positive and work harder.
PC: “Dear, Haven” closes A Hard Up Life with a message to your daughter. Can you talk about why you decided to close the album with that song? Is sequencing something you pay attention to?
DF: I actually did pay attention to it on this album. I tried to place the songs in such a way the listener would feel as if they’re listening to a whole story front to end and I chose “Dear, Haven” to wrap it all up because I think that song serves as a turning point in my life and the beginning of a new chapter.
PC: Do you have a favorite song on A Hard Up Life? If so, why is it so special to you?
DF: Probably “Blue Collar;” it’s just very real for me. I wrote the whole thing during a single bad shift at work and I think folks will end up finding it harshly relatable.
PC: What do you hope listeners take away from A Hard Up Life after listening all the way through?
DF: First I hope they dig it and become a fan of the songs, second I hope people might find some comfort in the stories and that it might help them get through some things a little easier somehow.
PC: With live performances largely being cancelled, how has you been able to use your newfound downtime?
DF: I’m working constantly, almost to a fault. Playing local gigs as often as possible, writing music, learning how to market it all and network, spend time with my little family and work a full-time job on top of it all. It’s chaotic most times, but I grow more with the friction and wouldn’t have it any other way.
PC: Of the things you can control, what are your plans for the rest of 2021?
DF: Just work. I want to work harder than ever, towards everything. Being a husband, a father, a musician. Play more shows, write more songs, take more trips, see more things, listen a little harder and grow a lot more.
PC: Is there anything you’d like to add?
DF: Thanks for taking the time out to talk about the new album and helping me get the word out! I truly appreciate the opportunity and hope everyone digs the new material!
*Drayton’s music is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*