Andrew Duhon's last album may have been nominated for a Grammy Award, but he did not hesitate to change things up on the new False River, premiering exclusively below and available for pre-order.
The New Orleans singer-songwriter took the “backing band” from 2013's The Moorings, bassist Myles Weeks and drummer G. Maxwell Zemanovic, on the road with him to support that album. And in doing so he created a unit that impacted his approach to False River, which was produced by Eric Masse and comes out May 25.
“They certainly pushed me in a new direction,” Duhon tells Billboard about an album that rolls from the lively Crescent City flavor “Street Fair” to the soulful Americana “Easy Ways” and the gentle ambience tracks such as “Mississippi Be My Guide” and “Gotta Know.” “These new songs came along not just as solo compositions the way I had written in the past, but I allowed what the trio was doing to start musically pushing and musically informing me to write more thoughtful music, basically. Before this record I would have told you the lyrics come first, but in playing with these guys the music came about first that put me in a space the lyrics had to fit into more rigidly. So some this stuff was a learning curve in trying to write songs that way.”
Some False River's 11 tracks, in fact, were created during a group trip to a hunting camp Weeks' family owns in Mississippi. “We went f-season, so nobody was out there, and holed up for about a week to work on our ideas,” recalls Duhon, who also used keyboardist Jano Rix on the album, with Rayland Baxter contributing backing vocals. “We would just play together and listen to each other play, and there were songs that came out that experience. You can juggle so many ideas yourself, and to have people to bounce these ideas f and travel down some these rabbit holes was really great.”
Lyrically, False River follows The Moorings' introspective ruminations about love and relationships — one in particular that has since ended. “There's plenty that young man wrestling with the duality freedom as opposed to love and comfort and companionship,” Duhon explains. “I think many the songs are letters to that person who I am striving for companionship with, but knowing this freedom that I seek is breaking her heart. That's the story I'm telling on this record. Certainly that relationship is gone, and that story I need to tell about my experience on that piece my journey in love, it comes to a close. This is the close to that book, I think, and I'm on to other chapters love.”
With False River out, Duhon says he's ready to “have guitar, will travel” to promote the album. He'll be playing solo as well as duo shows, with but rarely with Zemanovic, who's also drumming for Miranda Lambert. But Duhon is also mindful finding more writing time, even during the album cycle. “Balance is gonna be the go-to word for me,” he says. “I need to find balance with touring and writing and making sure it doesn't take another four years before I'm ready to put out another record. I want to be a songwriter and I want to continue to figure out what it is I have to say. I'm gonna keep listening to what it is that other folks are doing that's inspiring to me, and I'll continue to listen to the voices in my head that have a good line or something I can turn into a song.”