Trent Dabbs is one of the Nashville-based artists who stands to have his profile raised by ABC’s new, music-based soap opera Nashville.
The debut episode found aspiring musicians Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio) and Scarlett O’Connor (Clare Bowen) duetting on “If I Didn’t Know Better,” a tune penned by real-life duo The Civil Wars during their very first writing session.
Tonight’s episode centers around Dabbs’ song “Undermine,” which he co-wrote with another local artist, Kacey Musgraves. The show’s version, a duet between country starlet Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) and guitarist Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten), is currently available via iTunes.
“Kacey Musgraves and I wrote that song at least a year ago, and it was passed along to the music supervisor for the show,” Dabbs tells American Songwriter. ” However, it wasn’t written for the show, so that was even more exciting to me.”
Dabbs, who has released six solo albums and also performs in the band Sugar and The Hi Lows, found the inspiration for “Undermine” after a falling out with a friend. “I try to believe that everyone has good intentions or they mean well in general. However, I had recently been falsely accused by a friend and wanted to write about that frustration. That’s why the song says ‘It’s all talk, talk, talk, talking in the wind. It only slows you down when you start listening.’ If we stopped and listened to everyone who gives backlash, we would never move forward.”
“Writing with Kacey was classic because she is a real artist with no restrictions and cares more about conviction than record sales,” Dabbs says about the collaboration. “That is rare, and that’s why she’s taking off as a new artist now. Her single ‘Merry Go Round’ is moving up the radio charts and Rolling Stone gave her 4 stars.”
So what does Dabbs make of Esten and Panettiere’s rendition? “I think it took a few liberties sonically, but in a good way with T-Bone [Burnett, the show’s musical director] at the helm. The new version actually has more of a halftime feel but I like it and the guitar tone has a great vibe.”
Nashville airs tonight at 9.