5 Things to Know About Griffen Palmer

Griffen Palmer had a long journey to his debut album, Unlearn, available now.

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The Big Loud Records recording artist moved to the U.S. from Canada 10 years ago to play rugby on a college scholarship. After years of writing songs for other artists like Keith Urban, Florida Georgia Line and Diplo, the 2020 Songland winner shares his story with the world on the 10-track album Unlearn.

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American Songwriter caught up with the singer/songwriter at Live In The Vineyard Goes Country and learned more about Palmer’s songwriting process, debut album and how his family inspires his music.

“There’s a whole mix of feelings,” Palmer says about the release of his debut album. “I’m really excited because that’s something I’ve been working towards for a long time. But with that comes some anxiety. All the hard work that we put into this record over the past four years, it’s just finally come to fruition and it’s fun to be able to share it with people now and let it begin its life.”

Below are five things to know about Palmer.

1. He comes from a musical family

“I come from a family of six kids. My whole life was in a big crazy house, doing family stuff, which was all I really knew for the longest time. I’m the second oldest, so I still have twin sisters that are 13 and my brother is 15. … It’s more so we were interested in what [our dad] was passionate about, which was music. So, we learned to love it through him.”

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2. Family inspired his debut album Unlearn

“The title track ‘Unlearn’ is a good one to listen to first because it’s the most personal song on the record. It talks about my home life growing up and if there’s any song someone’s going to get to know me by it’s that song.

“I’m talking about my parents splitting up when I was eight years old, and that’s a confusing time for any kid and [figuring out] what family looks like at that time of your life. For me, growing up was a lot of defining what that should mean for myself, and I could choose how I want that to look. So, it was really about unlearning some of the things I had seen when I was younger. The song as a whole, it’s just very much my story.”

3. Winning Songland informed the songwriting direction of Unlearn

“I think it really helped me in what I actually learned from those A-list songwriters. It was the first time in my whole career I was ever able to collaborate with people of that status in the songwriting world like Shane McAnally and Ryan Tedder. I really tried to be a sponge during that whole process and took some of those tips and tricks into the writing of my own record.”

[RELATED: ‘Songland’ Winner Griffen Palmer Explains That in Songwriting There’s Always More to Learn]

4. He uses the writing tips learned from Shane McAnally

“I remember writing with Shane, and he would think about every line no matter how big or small or seemingly insignificant and ask, ‘How is this helping us write towards the idea of the song?’ A lot of times I would write lyrics in chunks. I’d write three lines at once and not nitpick them one at a time. He really made me slow down and filter through my songwriting and make sure everything’s there for a reason. It really helps condense the meaning of the song.”

5. How he decides to save a song for himself or give it away to another artist

“It’s hard to explain because it is just a gut reaction. Sometimes, there’s some topics and songs that only feel right for you to sing them. Other times, you want your song to be heard by the most people and to have the best life that it can and sometimes that means giving it up for someone else.

“I think now that I’ve been on the other end of being an artist choosing songs for my own record, I know how hard that process is and how much you have to really love and believe in a song to make it one of the ones on the record. It’s really given me an even greater appreciation for the artists that have chosen my songs to be a part of their records.”

(Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images)

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