As if the most potent strains of American roots music all rose up from the ground and intertwined into a living, breathing entity, Charley Crockett contains an unfair amount of country and blues talent, only rendered forgivable from his incredible ability to share it.
On July 31st, the Texas native will release his latest record called Welcome To Hard Times via Thirty Tigers. Produced by Mark Neil, it also includes songwriting contributions from Pat McLaughlin and Dan Auerbach. “This record is for the folks who feel like everything’s fixed. If you think you’re playing a rigged game, you’re right. If it seems like all the cards are marked in advance, they are. But you still gotta roll the dice, even when you know they’re loaded.”
Crockett is no stranger to hard times himself. The once homeless songwriter spent time busking on subway cars and on the streets of the French Quarter before be began forging a team and audience to get his music to the greater masses. Then just as soon as his career began to take off, he was diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition that required risky open heart surgery to solve. But these moments have become the motivation and narratives interwoven into his songs that have made him such a compelling performer.
“I look at that scar and all I can think about is the limited amount of time I’ve got left, I wanted to make an album that would try to reclaim the conversation about country music.” Crockett says, “My entering country music has been controversial to say the least but I believe country fans have more eclectic tastes than they are given credit for. My country music is inspired by what I played in the subway car so I could eat, in the French Quarter in ragtag bands. I sat in pastures on farms across this country putting it all together into my own sound. I don’t like labels but if that ain’t country I don’t know what is.”
Crockett is speaking to his propensity to add elements of blues, R&B, and ragtime into his music. But if you can’t hear the honky tonk heart behind many of his songs, you don’t know country music. It’s Crockett’s adherence to the roots that saw him winning the 2020 Ameripolitan Award for Best Honky Tonk Male.
Ahead of the new record, the direct descendant to Davy Crockett has released the title track, along with an accompanying video shot in the Sierra Nevada (see below). It will be one of many videos from the record where Crockett will play the same character. And along with sharing his music, Crockett also wants to share his story of perseverance through adversity.
“I’ve gotten more than my fair share of raw deals in my thirty six years. But I don’t let hard luck own me.” Crockett says. “I’ve been fortunate enough to see things that a person from my background is never meant to see, and that’s worth something. It turns out that a wandering boy can learn a whole lot out there getting in trouble. Especially if he learns from his mistakes. I wouldn’t take anything back that’s happened to me. I’m not the best and I damn sure ain’t the first. But I’m different, and in music, that’s everything.”
Welcome to Hard Times is now available for pre-order.
Welcome To Hard Times tracklist:
- Welcome To Hard Times
- Run Horse Run
- Don’t Cry
- Tennessee Special
- Fool Somebody Else
- Lily My Dear
- Wreck Me
- Heads You Win
- Rainin’ In My Heart
- Paint It Blue
- Black Jack County Crain
- The Man That Time Forgot
- The Poplar Tree