“A Tennessee Original” is how modern country artist Shelby Lee Rowe is described on his official website. And his deep dedication to the neo-traditionalism of his craft certainly offers credence to that sentiment.
When you listen to the music of this rising force from the outskirts of Nashville, it’s easy to recognize the spirits of Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Buck Owens in his sound. Yet there’s also an edge to the Lowe style that wouldn’t seem out of place on an old college radio show in between cuts from Tarantino and Uncle Tupelo as well. And it is that sense of duality that propels the feel of his excellent new single “Could’ve Fooled Me,” which American Songwriter is honored to premiere a day ahead of its official release on major platforms tomorrow (October 16) as part of a new EP entitled Something In Me.
“I wanted a love song that had angst where the girl wasn’t that serious about the relationship,” Lowe explains in reference to the song’s thematic crux, which he co-wrote with friends David Ross and Andrew Scott Wills. “I’ve certainly been on both sides of this relationship before. Andy and I talked about this project having a traditional, honky-tonk country sound that was similar to records we loved from the 70s, 80s and 90s by artists like Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakam, Johnny Lee and Ronnie Milsap. We wanted twangy Telecaster Guitars and a heavy dose of steel guitar and keys. With all of my shows getting cancelled this spring and summer, I decided to focus all of my energy on making this EP.”
For Lowe, the sentiments that exist in this song can surely be empathetic to anyone who looked across the bar from afar to discover a crush canoodling with someone only in it for the momentary fix.
“I’ve played in bars and clubs where people two step and slow dance for years, and I’ve seen the scenario of this song played out before,” he tells American Songwriter. “I’ve met folks who are ‘just friends’ that get together to dance until they dance and drink a little too much. I wanted to put myself in the shoes of someone that’s in love with someone who isn’t ready to commit. We tried to write a song that anyone who has ever had a hard time attempting love after being scorned or anyone who has ever wanted someone more than they wanted them could relate to within the story that we wrote in ‘Could’ve Fooled Me.'”