Gabe Dixon Releases New Album, 'Lay It On Me'
It’s always exciting when an artist you’ve been a fan of for a long time releases new music, especially when they never disappoint! It seems like Tennessee native Gabe Dixon achieves new heights with each release - it’s a good thing the sky’s the limit! For his new collection, Lay It On Me, he worked with producer, songwriter and a Nashville artist with his own releases as well, Dustin Ransom. Gabe and I caught up via email; he hit the road a couple of weeks ago for his first tour since the pandemic playing keys and singing with the Tedeschi Trucks Band, who just played two nights at Hop Springs Beerpark in Murfreesboro and are playing Arrington, Virginia’s re-worked Lockn’ Farm this year, with The Gabe Dixon Band playing a set as well.
AnaLee: Welcome back to the road, Gabe. You are out there with a busy tour schedule and your new album, Lay It On Me is out today! It feels almost like we lost a year with 2020, which we sort of did, but let’s go back to 2019 when you started working on this new record and joined the Tedeschi Trucks Band tour that same year. How much of the record was done when you started touring with Tedeschi Trucks and did that experience change the course of the record at all?
Gabe:Thanks Ana Lee! Yes. Before I started touring with Tedeschi Trucks Band, I had planned to record 3 albums in 2019: a full length studio album, an EP with another writer/producer friend, plus a full length Christmas album, but joining TTB’s tour limited my time for recording, so I had to pick the most important of those 3 projects. Since it had been a few years since my last studio album, and I had already written most of the songs for a new one, I choose the full length. When 2019 started I had already written and recorded 2 songs with Dustin Ransom — “I Believe In Our Love” and “Reach (In The Middle Of The Night).” They sounded really great to me, and we had so much fun working together, so I asked if he would help me record a full length album. He said yes, so, during 2019, I picked my favorite recent songs I had written, squeezed in a couple more co-writes while home from the road — one with Phil Madeira and one with Dustin, and then I went into the studio with Dustin for about 2 weeks in the fall. We added the final touches to the album over the next couple of months.
AnaLee: Your albums always have songs for different moods and you really get a taste of your styles with Dustin Ransom producing. The album includes a song I didn’t realize you’d written with Dustin; I remember when he released “I Believe in Our Love” a couple of years ago! Talk a little about working with Dustin as your producer for this album.
Gabe:“I Believe In Our Love,” was the first song Dustin and I wrote together. We wrote and recorded the whole song in a day. For me, after years of co-writing 3-5 days a week with dozens and dozens of different songwriters, mostly songs to pitch for country or pop artists or to try to land a TV show placement or something — it was a refreshing change to be able to just write something that I personally loved. He and I both have a bit of a jazz, funk, and soul influence, and we aren’t afraid to put a few more chords than normal into a song when it calls for it. It scratched a musical itch for me that I forgot I had. And this process of recording was completely different than any of my previous albums. The typical recording process for me has always been to rehearse my songs with a band and then go in and record everyone together, but this time, Dustin and I recorded the songs track by track. We usually started with my piano and vocal. Then he would go in and play the drums, bass, and maybe guitar. Then I would replace the piano I had recorded. Then we would add some overdubs like organ or percussion, and then I would re-sing the lead vocal. And then Dustin would mix the track. Our musical tastes overlap a good bit, so it ended up being a really fun experience to just experiment and add whatever layers inspired us in the moment. We were like 2 kids in a candy store.
AnaLee: An artist we are big fans of here at WMOT, Shannon LaBrie is your co-writer on the song, “I Got Your Love (You Got Mine)”, you sing it on the album with friend and bandmate, Susan Tedeschi. Tell us about this song and if you had Susan in mind for a duet when you wrote it.
Gabe:I really enjoy writing with Shannon. To me, her style is a pleasing mix of folk and rock and soul, with a little jazz influence. I feel a certain creative freedom writing with her. We have written several songs together. This one day in particular we started writing this grooving little soul-type of thing. She sang a verse, and I sang a verse, and then the lightbulb went off. . . “hey, this could be a duet!” So, we wrote the song to be 2 people simply professing their love and devotion for each other. It finds a natural home on this album. I didn’t have Susan specifically in mind for the song initially, but when I recorded the song, I’d been touring a lot with her, and I just love her voice so much, so I asked if she would sing the song with me. She said yes!
AnaLee: Tedeschi Trucks are known for their expansive tour schedule. You are such a great fit in this band and I’m thrilled at the opportunity for so many of their fans to find out about you. Will there be a Gabe Dixon Band tour at some point?
Gabe:Absolutely! This year I am actually opening a few shows for Tedeschi Trucks Band with my trio in August, including at the Lockn’ Festival along with Jon Batiste and Marcus King. I also have my own band show in New York in late September. And my band is on the bill for the Summer 2022 “Wheels Of Soul” tour, along with Los Lobos and Tedeschi Trucks Band. I will be playing as a member of TTB for the foreseeable future, but I will always try to slate in my own shows and tours whenever and wherever possible.
AnaLee: How has it been so far on the road, did everything fall back into place like riding a bike?
Gabe:Haha! Honestly, the first night sleeping in a bus bunk a couple of weeks ago was pretty fitful, but at this point, I think I pretty much have my “tour-legs” back. It just feels so good to be bringing live music to people again.
AnaLee: I wish you all the success with this release, Gabe. Thanks for taking time from the road to chat with me!
Gabe Dixon, “I Got Your Love (You Got Mine)” featuring Susan Tedeschi
Gabe Dixon, “Lay It On Me”