Get A Sneak Peak Of Classic Country Crooner Jack Settle’s Debut Album, “Hickory Avenue”, Out This Friday
I stumbled onto Jack Settle’s music somehow and boy am I glad I did! It was around the first week of January this year when I started playing songs from his ep, Middle of Somewhere on The Local Brew Hour and shortly thereafter, he let me hear a few unfinished tracks from his full-length album Hickory Avenue, out this Friday. Settle’s clear vocal tone lends itself perfectly to the sound and style he’s creating. I talked to him about a couple of the songs on the album, a special video he made with found footage from his childhood and recording live with his band at The Smoakstack in Berry Hill. Tune in to The Local Brew Hour this Sunday at 8am for a song from Hickory Avenue.
AnaLee: What a fun record. There’s humor, some reminiscing and longing and some barn-burnin’ good time country rock! We’ll get into a few of the tracks on the album, but first, if you would, tell us about growing up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, the music you were around and when you first remember thinking the path you were going to follow was music.
Jack: Thank you, AnaLee! I spent the first 18 years of my life in Bartlesville, so my life and music have been heavily influenced by my experience there. My first musical love was actually rock music. A lot of my early musical discovery came from Christian radio; bands like Skillet, Switchfoot, and Third Day were some of my favorites (and still are). Skillet was the first concert I ever attended, for my 10th birthday in 2009. When the drum tech checked the kick drum before the show, and I felt it resonate in my chest, I was hooked on live music. As my love for music grew, I came to enjoy many other types of music. Due to the fact that I was living in Oklahoma, I just couldn't escape country music. I actually remember making fun of the cheesy country songs that were on country radio as a kid in the early 2000s. But when my voice dropped in middle school, and my middle school choir part changed from soprano to bass, I found that I really enjoyed singing country. The first song that lit that spark was Your Man by Josh Turner. Slowly, I was persuaded into being a country fan by artists and bands like Chris Stapleton, Zac Brown Band, George Strait, Alan Jackson, and Merle Haggard. (More recently, I have drawn influence and inspiration from the Turnpike Troubadours, Tyler Childers, Flatland Cavalry, the Wilder Blue, and Jesse Daniel). Though a full-on country fan by high school, I didn't consider music as a career until I was in recovery from a medical emergency. I woke up one morning with no hearing in my right ear, intense vertigo, and tinnitus. A virus had attacked my inner ear and I was only able to get about 60% of my hearing back in that ear after treatment. During the month or two that I spent in bed with vertigo, I didn't play or sing any music. When I first sang again after that, it almost brought me to tears. I realized how important music was to me, and I wanted to pursue it while I still could. I moved to Nashville the next year after graduating high school and I have loved every second of my time here!
AnaLee: You recorded the album live with your band at The Smoakstack in Berry Hill, Tennessee. Were there lots of rehearsals or did you all just show up and nail it? Tell us about the experience and about your crew for the album.
Jack: It was fun to record with the band that I play live with, because they already knew the songs well. The lineup of players varied slightly between songs, but I want to give a shoutout to the folks who played on most of the songs: Justin Schumacher (electric guitar), Chaslea Pai (fiddle), Massimo DiStefano (drums), Jakob Willkomm (bass), Daniel Haymore (steel) and Matt Lale (keys). The recording for this project was spaced out over a couple months. We would record 2-3 songs per session, and we'd usually just have one practice a few days before each session. We ironed out a lot of the instrumental parts in those practices, but also tried to show up with open minds to be creative in the studio. I often write songs with production ideas in mind, so I was happy to be able to co-produce the album with Sam Hayes and Brendon Hapgood from Smoakstack. By the way, the Smoakstack is such a cool studio. Vintage guitars and mics, unique decorations and comfortable setup. They're not paying me to say this, but it was just the perfect place to record an album.
AnaLee: It’s been great to discover the music of some of your co-creators as well, like Justin Schumacher and Lydia Simonds. You and Justin played on each other’s recordings, and I believe you are going out on tour together later this year? Tell us about those plans and about writing, “Easy to Dance” with Lydia.
Jack: It makes me so happy that you have discovered Justin and Lydia too! They are both good friends and such talented songwriters and artists. Justin and I will be embarking on our 3rd annual backyard concert tour this July. We are currently finalizing dates and locations and will be announcing it very soon! Hitting the road with Justin, his wife Audrey, and our good friend Nathan, is a highlight of every year for me. We pile in my minivan, Suzanne, and tour across several states, playing in a different city and backyard every night. It is such a freeing and exciting experience!
Lydia and I met at the Bluebird Cafe back in 2018. At the time, I had recently moved to Nashville, and Lydia still lived in Georgia. The next year, she invited me to Atlanta to record a duet with her, titled "Broke My Own Heart". When Lydia moved to Nashville in 2020, we got together to write a song. It was one of those co-writes that started with a simple line about being with someone who makes it "easy to dance". We finished it in one writing session, which is rare for me!
AnaLee: The album’s title track, Hickory Avenue, has a very special video. Tell us how some found footage from 2005 wound up being the perfect visuals for this song and how it became a Mother’s Day surprise for your mom.
Jack: A little over a month ago, my mom gave me a video cassette tape so I could have it scanned to digital video. We had no idea what was on it; it was just labeled "2005". I was delighted to find 2 hours of footage of my little sister and I when I was 6 years-old and she was 3 years-old. It had tons of happy, candid moments like birthdays, dancing, singing, and playing outside. I compiled some of my favorite clips and made the music video for Hickory Avenue. I wrote that song about seeing my two little sisters grow up and watching the landscape around us change. Those video clips captured that same nostalgic feeling that is portrayed in the song. I knew my mom would love the video and I waited a couple weeks to show her so I could surprise her on Mother's Day. I had planned to FaceTime her while my sisters played her the video, but unfortunately, I fell ill that day. Thankfully, my sisters recorded a video of my mom's reaction and sent it to me. She cried lots of happy tears!
AnaLee: You have a release show planned with some of your collaborators from the record and another Jack from Oklahoma. Tell us about that and any other projects or shows you’re involved with.
Jack: This Saturday, May 21, at the Mockingbird Theater isthe album release show! This is going to be a fun one. Jack Tidwell will be coming all the way from Oklahoma to open the show. My dad heard him on the local radio in Oklahoma and sent me one of his songs. I got connected with Jack on social media and we'll also be playing a show together in Oklahoma! After Jack plays, there will be a writers’ round with several of my album collaborators: Justin Schumacher, Lydia Simonds, and Emily Daniel. All three of them co-wrote songs on the album and recorded on it as well. Then my band and I will take the stage and play the album and more!
“Interstatin’” with Justin Schumacher on lead guitar
“Easy To Dance” with Lydia Simonds