Devin Dawson Is Peeling Back New Musical Layers Writing for His Second Album
As Devin Dawson continues to enjoy the breakout success of his debut album, Dark Horse, the country up-and-comer has already started to formulate plans for a followup project. It's no small task -- no one, least of all Dawson himself, could have predicted the impact Dark Horse would have on the country music world -- but fortunately, he's a perfectionist.
"[This week] I actually wrote a couple of songs that I'm pretty stoked on," Dawson told The Boot backstage at Country Jam 2018 in June -- but that that doesn't mean he'll incorporate them into his live set just yet.
"They'll go in the hopper. You know, they'll go in the bank," he adds. "We'll jam on them at soundcheck if we have time, but I'm always writing for what's next, so that I can be ready and not have to scramble to write and have that pressure. But I wrote a couple -- at least one -- that I really, really love, which is not easy to get. I'm very picky. There's still one line in the second verse that I wanna change, but I'll get it."
In the meantime, Dawson is busy accumulating the life experiences and new perspectives he needs to bring a fresh voice to his second album. "You have to live to create. You have to experience to share," he explained in a separate interview with The Boot at the 2018 Taste of Country Music Festival.
"For me, I use that as an excuse to rest or take time off. I'm just going through life and once something catches me, I'll write about it," he continues. "That's gonna be what creates my albums for the rest of my life. From Point A to Point B, everything in the middle is what an album is to me. There's conceptual ties and common threads between all of it, but it's really just where I'm at and what that means."
One aspect of Dawson's experience has long been his diverse roster of influences. He spent time touring with a death metal band, Shadow of the Colossus, before focusing on country music.
"My job as an artist is to be extremely myself, and my job as a new artist is to let people know who I am, so if I held anything back, I wouldn't be doing myself a service, you know?" he explains. "Really, my album is just a culmination of all the ways I grew up listening to all these certain types of music."
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Dawson knows the changes in country music, which have made room for a wider variety of influences and styles within the genre, have opened the door for his career. "It's no secret that country is super broad right now," he adds. "I think that's a beautiful thing, because it's a direct correlation to the way people are listening. That's how people are consuming music. Not everyone just listens to country or just listens to pop or just listens to rock. I think everyone listens to everything, and so each genre is kind of expanding into each other.
"And for me that's an awesome thing," Dawson goes on to say, "because I have so many different influences that I can't help but show, and I don't want to hide from any of them."
This mentality applies not only to Dawson's musical background, but his geographic background, too. As a native Californian, Dawson has enjoyed seeing more West Coast writers and performers find their places in the country music world.
"I really like Tyler Rich. He has this song called "The Difference," and I actually co-wrote it, so that helps," Dawson says with a laugh. "But I just like what he's doing. He's from Northern California, which is where I'm from, so it's cool to see this resurgence of California writers: me, Jon Pardi, Brett Young, Cam, John Rich. Obviously you have Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakam and all that, but it's cool to see it coming back. Country music isn't just from Georgia. It's from all over the world, and this is just our version of it."
The hallmark of that version of country, Dawson says, is diversity: "I think that's what you should expect from California, right?" he adds. "It's a place that people migrate to. So I think the diversity in the sound and sonics makes sense from California."
Watch Devin Dawson Sing "Asking for a Friend" in Nashville