The once Saving Country Music Song of the Year winner and former frontman of Kentucky-based Southern rock outfit Fifth on the Floor is readying the release of a new album, and “ambitious” would be one one way to characterize it. Justin Wells will release The United State on August 28th, and compelled to speak out about the fractured nature of society, he will try to sew universal themes into the 12 movements of this purposeful and conceptualized work.
“This record starts in the womb, and it ends after death,” says Justin Wells. “The shared human experience. Ultimately, this album’s about unity. It’s about the common thread that connects us all.”
Justin Wells and Fifth on the Floor eared a strong following between 2006 and 2015, and helped put the Kentucky-based songwriter on the map. “When that band broke up, it kicked me in the teeth. We’d spent years clawing upward, and suddenly there was no wind, no sails,” says Wells. “That had been my dream since I was a teenager, and all of my eggs were in that basket. There was no backup plan.”
But he rallied to release 2016’s Dawn in the Distance, which included the song “The Dogs” that became like an anthem for the also-rans of society, and his perseverance put him in the company of the other great Kentucky songwriters that in many ways are leading the country music resistance.
But the effort on The United State transcends genre or even taste to attempt to speak to everyone. Wells didn’t write the record as a collection of random thoughts on paper accrued over time, but as a planned-out narrative unfolding through the music.
“Tribalism is the name of the game at this point,” says Wells. “‘Divided’ is a cliche. But if you zoom out, we all bleed the same, we all laugh the same, we all cry the same. There’s this common path that all of our lives follow: birth, being a dumbass kid, thinking you’re falling in love, actually falling in love, starting a family. Worrying about paying the bills, death, whatever comes next.”
Joining Justin on this journey will be producer Duane Lundy, along with former Sturgill Simpson guitar player turned Drivin’ & Cryin’ member Laur Joamets, Alex Muñoz who’s worked with Margo Price and Nikki Lane, brothers Daxx and Miles Nielsen, and multi-instrumentalist Justin Craig. “My name is on the cover, but a community made this album,” says Wells.
The United State is now available for pre-order, and the the debut track “The Screaming Song” has been released (listen below).
The United State Track List:
1: You’ll Never Know, Dear, How Much I Love You
2. The Screaming Song
3. No Time for a Broken Heart
4. Some Distance From it All
5. Never Better
6. After the Fall
7. It’ll All Work Out
8. Temporary Blue
9. Walls Fall Down
11. The Bridge
12. Farewell, Mr. Hooper