While many artists leave their hometowns in search of new experiences and like-minded communities, the pull of home is often always there. It can also be fertile ground for artistic inspiration, as songwriter Will Stewart discovered when he left Nashville for his home of Alabama in early 2016.
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It was there that Stewart wrote what would become County Seat, a new album due out April 6 on Birmingham’s Cornelius Chapel Records. The album explores the complicated tangle of Stewart’s Southern roots, blending nostalgia and reverence with a stark awareness of the region’s dark, flawed past. Lester Nuby, III, known for his work with artists like St. Paul and the Broken Bones and St. Vincent, produced the album.
Ahead of the album’s release, Stewart has shared a first glimpse at County Seat in “Sipsey,” a rambling roots rocker that recalls Hiss Golden Messenger and explores the unique phenomenon of recalling childhood memories through the lens of adulthood.
“The title references a place in northwest Alabama called Sipsey Wilderness Preserve,” Stewart says. “I wanted to use that as a sort of visual, tangible anchor to otherwise vague, impressionistic lyrics. I also just like the way it sounds. But overall, the song is about trying to recapture the sense of awe, wonder and abandon — and maybe innocence, to a lesser degree — of young adulthood, coming to realize that things that were once inconsequential in youth are now the only things that matter.”
Listen to “Sipsey” below.