Hailing from the Bluegrass State, gritty-Americana artist, Justin Wells, premieres “No Time for a Broken Heart” on American Songwriter. The single introduces his second solo record, The United State. Due on August 28, the narrative album follows his 2016 debut, Dawn In The Distance.
Methodically crafted by Wells and produced with the legendary Duane Lundy, The United State is his most dynamic work yet. The missing “s” initially strikes as a typo, grabbing attention for a higher purpose. “State” in this case is more meta-physical than geographic. The artist strings each song on the record together to pass a coalescent message along.
“The throughline of the human experience is a struggle for happiness, a struggle for love, or just a struggle, period. The rest is minutiae,” Wells explained of the mutuality his collection speaks to. “We have this struggle in common, all of us. At the bare minimum, we have that. It’s what could and should unite us. Humanizing one another is the first step towards common ground. “State,” not as random lines on a map, but as a condition.”
As a whole, the record chronicles the human experience from end to end. Last month’s single, “Screaming Song” kicks off right at the beginning. He highlights the wonder of birth, singing, “The most beautiful sight I’ve never seen/ This short life so far has been like a dream,” Wells sings. “I hear the screaming song/’til the meaning is gone/ And it won’t be the last time I am on my own.”
His latest, “No Time for a Broken Heart,” is left of center on the timeline, reverting to a youthful period. The artist identified this phase as “that time before life has given its licks, and when figuring out the landing comes mid-jump.” The perspective is older and wiser, encouraging the younger self to partake in youthful recklessness while it is still timely and appropriate.
According to Wells, this sophomore studio album departs from his 2016 debut in it’s “sureness of step.” “Dawn in the Distance came from a not so great point in my life,” he shared. “I had to reckon with essentially hitting reset on my career while also considering my responsibilities as a husband and a new father. I felt joy making The United State. And I can hear it.”
The combination of the two reflects Wells’ dedication to his craft. Leading up to his solo career, the artist spent years writing and performing with Fifth on the Floor. The cult-favorite Southern rock band’s breakthrough Shooter Jennings-produced album Ashes & Angels debuted on the Billboard Country charts. They then hit the road with Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, and Jason Isbell before they broke up in 2013.
“My solo career has just been me continuing to do the work,” he offered. Although he served as the primary writer and lead singer, he insisted “the band was an absolute collaboration,” adding, “with all the comfort and tension that comes with that. But it was also a wild thing, and at a certain point, the screws come loose. And the screws came loose. So it was either off to the factory and a 401k or to keep writing. I kept writing.”
The delivery is not as timely as the artist initially hoped, but the messaging is necessary and urgent. Written from an intimate corner of his soul, themes of empathy and love bleed through from track-to-track. “Loving your mama, loving yourself, loving your partner, loving your kids,” Wells’ shared, inventorying his new content. “All of this is empathy, human connection.” Though he longs for that connection through live performance, he knew his album needed to come now. “I’m not offering any answers,” he humbly clarified. “But I think if we can start at love, we can figure out the rest.”
Watch the video for “No Time for a Broken Heart” below and pre-order The United State from Justin Wells before August 28.