Waylon Payne Readies Release of Long-Awaited Album

photo: James Minchin

This is one many have been waiting a very long time for.

Grammy-nominated Waylon Payne is the name you turn to when you need a ringer of a song to really anchor a record, and that is what names like Miranda Lambert, Lee Ann Womack, Wade Bowen, Charlie Robison, Pam Tillis, and many more have been doing for a while. A natural pedigree for country music courses through his veins as the progeny of Sammi Smith and Willie Nelson guitar player Jody Payne. He was named after his godfather of Waylon Jennings.

But those who know Waylon Payne know that the Carnival Music-signed songwriter is just as fit to be a performer, and have been hoping for this long-rumored album for a while. Called Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, it’s due out September 11th in full, but will be released in four installments or “acts,” with three new songs accompanying the album announcement just released, all solo written by Payne.

Raised by his aunt and uncle due to the heavy touring schedules of his parents, Payne attended seminary after high school and was on track to become a minister before catching the music bug. For a while Payne was part of the popular Eastbound and Down country night at the King Club in Hollywood where performers would swap classic country songs. Payne later released the album The Drifter in 2004 through Republic Universal, but his recording career sort of fizzled out.

“The essential DNA elements of this record are my written confessions and pleas for forgiveness,” says Payne, who ended up being disowned by his aunt and uncle, experimented with drugs, and came out of the closet. “It all revolved around me getting right with myself and the universe. Maybe I still am a preacher in a way, I just channel it into what’s supposed to be.”

The new album is produced by Eric Masse and Frank Liddell, and includes contributions from Cage the Elephant guitarist Nick Bockrath, and Mickey Raphael. It was recorded at Southern Ground Studio, which used to be known as Monument Studios, where his mother recorded “Help Me Make It Through The Night” and other songs.

Music hasn’t been Waylon Payne’s only creative calling. In the award-winning Johnny Cash film I Walk The Line, Payne played Jerry Lee Lewis. He also played country great Hank Garland in a small film called Crazy, along with making numerous television appearances, including on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

All three of the first songs from the album are now available for download or streaming.

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