'An ode to the ever-changing ways of Nashville … [Howell’s] weathered voice [is] a perfect foil for the song’s nostalgic lyrics.'
'Sung in a yearning voice of nostalgia and regret, this is essential listening.'
Porter Howell, frontman, lead guitarist, principal songwriter and a founding member of multi-Grammy-nominated ’90s country vocal band, Little Texas, is announcing the release of his debut side project as a singer-songwriter, This Town Was, available Nov. 11. Pre-order is available now via ONErpm HERE. Howell will perform at an album release party at 6pm CT Tuesday, Nov. 15 at The Local in Nashville.
After 30 years in the business, it took a pandemic and the ensuing forced downtime from touring to compel Howell to compile this 10-track album of mostly self-penned songs. The title track and accompanying music video were released in April and garnered favorable reviews from Billboard and MusicRow.
“This album was recorded in my basement studio as honestly as possible,” Howell says. “No production tricks necessary—guitars, steel guitar, bass, drums and keys were all tracked with players in the room, the old school way.”
So maybe it’s no surprise that one of the more (humorously) self-reflective album tracks is fittingly titled “Old School”: So, say that I’m old school/Nothin’ but an old fool/That I’m behind the times, afraid to change/Cause in all honesty/I came about it honestly/A pretty cool old fool made me this way.”
In contrast, an ode to that “old fool,” the mesmeric “I Thought About You Today,” will bring more than a tear to your eye as Howell sings about his father: “I thought about you today/It’s funny how that happens/Think of some old thing we’d say/And I swear I hear you laughing/And I fight back a tear cause life without you here/Is still a little strange.” “I only wish I’d finished this project before he passed away, as I believe it would have been his favorite,” Howell says wistfully, noting that the album reflects his dad’s influence on his musical tastes.
Similarly nostalgic, anyone who knows Nashville’s history will be drawn to the authenticity of Howell’s heartfelt lyrics on the title track as he soulfully sings about how the town he grew up in professionally has changed so much. “This Town was/Two one-way streets where dreams could find a way to fly…If you look real close, you can almost see a vague outline…It’s where lonely voices dared to bare their hearts and souls/And if you listen close enough, you’ll hear the ghosts ….”
Other songs on the album metaphorically reflect the unpredictability of life (“Church of the Uncertain” and “Lucky to Be Alive”) and love (“Kinda Gone by Then,” “The Way You Were Back Then,” “Who Might Disagree”).
“It’s almost strange to feel this vulnerable by putting something out in the world that is so personal. I just hope everyone enjoys listening to it as much as I enjoyed making it.”
"This Town Was" Track List:
1. “This Town Was” (Porter Howell)
2. “Old School” (Porter Howell)
3. “Church of Uncertain” (Porter Howell)
4. “Lucky to Be Alive” (Porter Howell)
5. “I Thought About You Today” (Porter Howell)
6. “The Way You Were Back Then” (Jay Knowles, Porter Howell, Adam Wright)
7. “My Baby” (Porter Howell)
8. “Kind of Gone by Then” (Porter Howell)
9. “Who Might Disagree” (Porter Howell)
10. “What It’s All About” (Lisa Brokop, Porter Howell, Paul Jefferson)
All songs produced by Ian Stewart
"This Town Was": Album Players
Mike Borque (pedal steel guitar)
Becca Bradley (cello)
Karli Chayne (background vocals)
Mike Clairborne (bass guitar)
Rachel Crick (fiddle)
Porter Howell (acoustic guitar, lead guitar, baritone guitar, 6-string banjo, 12-string guitar, resonator guitar, slide guitar)
Reed Pittman (keys)
John Riffe (drums, percussions, background vocals)