Since he arrived on the music scene in 2003, Drew Kennedy has been known as a songwriter’s songwriter. Add in a distinctive voice which brings life to these songs and you have an artist who should be heard more than he is. On At Home In The Big Lonesome, the emotional weight of his poetic lyrics is immediately felt with “When I’ll Miss You The Most,” a lovely melodic and emotive ballad which sets the tone for the album, an album that is easily the best thing he’s released to date (which is saying a lot because his catalogue is pretty deep). Often at home in balladeer or mid-tempo mode on this album, there’s plenty of tempo to be found and a heavy dose of piano-based songs as well (as if he’s becoming the Five For Fighting of country/roots music).
“24 Hours In New York City,” written by Drew with another great emotive singer/songwriter in Sean McConnell (owner of our favorite album of 2016), is a vignette of a song, painting a scene where a couple of high school kids travel to the big city for a day of adventure and youthful love. It’s a song about moments, life’s moments, the moments which are a part of our life and make us who we are, even if we know that experience is but an EP in our life and not a LP. “Home” finds Drew Kennedy singing about a fragile relationship where the love and passion has left a couple (or at least one of the couples). “Cream And Sugar” details a man going on a coffee date only to realize that he needs to continue to see the girl, even if there is eventually heartbreak at the end of the line.
“Miles To Go” is a song which equates life on the open road to the chapters in ones own life. It’s a highly poetic and powerful song (co-written with Lisa Carver) and one that exemplifies what the At Home In The Big Lonesome’s album title is all about. It’s about various chapters (or vignettes) in life. Written with Kelsea Ballerini collaborator Forest Glen Whitehead, “My Love Will Never Change” is a beautifully sweet love song and the production from Dave Brainard is spot on. The strings on the tune add an elegant feel to the whole thing, something that only orchestral arrangements seem to capture in songs.
A lot ofAt Home In The Big Lonesome reminds me of classic singer/songwriter albums of the past and that’s what’s great about Drew Kennedy. Even tempo-filled songs like “Scratch And Dent” and “Sing This Town To Sleep” emote on levels rarely heard in modern country music. Closer “Walnut Street” is a perfect example of this as it’s the lone outside song on this project. That song’s writer (and original artist) Walt Wilkins is another poetic singer/songwriter who is criminally underrated. An artist who makes the kinds of songs that soothe your soul. Like Wilkins, Drew Kennedy’s music soothes your soul.