He may be based in Nashville now, but country music singer-songwriter George Shingleton considers himself a West Virginian through and through. Born and raised there, Shingleton makes music that has been heavily influenced by his surroundings. His brand new single out now, entitled "West Virginia Moon," is an ode to the state he once called home, and his love for the hills he left behind when he moved away shines through every lyric line of the song, enticing the listener with an aural saunter down a gravel back road, with the moonlight shining through the trees. Roughstock recently had the chance to sit down with Shingleton to talk about "West Virginia Moon."
Roughstock: Hi George! Thanks for joining us today. We love your new song, "West Virginia Moon." What is the story behind this song? Why did you write it?
George Shingleton: Thank you! That's awesome! Glad you’re liking it! My co-writer and good friend David Oakleaf and I were talking about my home state of West Virginia one morning when we were trying to come up with an idea to write. He had recently played a show up near where I grew up. The moon kinda came up, and that’s where the idea stemmed from. I’ve always wanted to write a song about where I’m from, so it seemed like that’s what we were supposed to write about that day.
Roughstock: What kind of a vibe were you going for on this song when you recorded it? Do you think you ended up with a song that sounds like you expected it to sound? If so, how so, and if not, what's different about it?
George Shingleton: My producer, Dave Pahanish, and I both agreed that a more laid-back approach seemed appropriate for this song. I feel like it worked. I think once the music started happening, it really made it come to life and take on the shape that it was intended to have. I hope.
Roughstock: How does "West Virginia Moon" fit into the overall vibe and themes of your music in general?
George Shingleton: It definitely could work its way onto both albums we’ve released so far, and I think it could translate into the next album, too. It just feels right when we play it, and that, to me, makes it an original for me. I’m not sure it could ever not fit into my music.
Roughstock: Was this a music-first or a lyrics-first song for you? Which way do you tend to write in general, music or lyrics first?
George Shingleton: I feel like the lyrics and music came out together for this song. It felt like it just flowed out at the same time. That seems to be the case with writing for me. Usually if the idea is there, and it’s strong enough, the melody and the lyrics seem to gravitate to each other. Maybe not always, but generally.
Roughstock: Tell us about your most recent album, "Out All Nighter." How did it come together? What are two "must listen" songs for listeners to check out and why do you think they are stand-out tracks?
George Shingleton: “Out All Nighter” came about after having songs that had sort of a common theme over a period of a few years of writing them. My favorite two tracks are “Handful of Hell” and “A Stones Throw Away From Heaven and Hell.” One was written for my wife, and the other song was written for my Papaw. I think they stand out because of what they mean to me.
Roughstock: You have a cohesion to your sound that is so organic and natural. How did you settle upon the George Shingleton "sound"? For the Roughstock readers who are just meeting you for the first time now, how do you describe your music to people who haven't heard it before?
George Shingleton: I know everyone has heard and said it, but I think it stands true. A good country song is just three chords and the truth. I think that’s where the organic and natural comes into play. If it’s real feelings and you need to get it out, most of the time a simple melody is all you need to make it happen. Of course, that’s just my way of doing it. I guess it’s what works for me.
Soulful country, is how I would describe the way I sound. A little bit of gospel and blues, mixed up with a whole lotta country.
Roughstock: How have you been connecting with fans during the pandemic?
George Shingleton: Livestreaming seemed to save the day for me, as far as keeping in front of an audience of any sort. It takes time to get used to not playing in front of a physical group of people, but once you start doing it, it gets easier, and you figure out ways to communicate with the folks who are listening.
Roughstock: What's up next for you?
George Shingleton: I know we’ll keep writing and recording, but I’m hoping to get out on the road soon! Yeah, man!