New baby, new EP, new UK and Europe gigs – the first six months of this year have been good to Kyle Daniel, but the release of the five-track Following The Rain reveals a much darker side to the Kentucky-born singer-songwriter. He talks to Alison Dewar about the highs and the lows.
Delving into depression, chasing dreams and the cherished bond between father and son – which by the way is the perfect Father’s Day song – the EP manages to be both raw and honest and just damn good, foot-stomping music.
The new EP was recorded at the Shoals Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, with renowned Nashville producer Brian Elmquist at the helm, and comes ahead of October 14’s launch of his long-promised Kentucky Gold album.
I asked him why, after all this time, he’s decided to bring out an EP when the album will be following so close behind.
“This kind of felt as though it was the right introduction to the record, based on the series of events that have happened over the last couple of years,” he says. “As a whole, I felt like we were Following The Rain. This is a precursor to the reality that will be Kentucky Gold and gives a 30,000 foot view of who Kyle Daniel is as an artist.
“I’ve been in this up and down mode, just like everybody else. There have been the goods and bads to my past couple of years and my career; the people coming and going; and the repositioning and re-teaming, and everything else that everybody has kinda been into.
“This is first person perspective, I’m sitting in the driver’s seat with a lot of these songs and for me, the goal was to create as much of a reality as to who Kyle Daniel is as humanly possible. For people who knew me and for folks who are yet to know me.
“This record was probably more difficult to write than the previous EPs and releases because it does have that sense of reality. It is more storytelling as to my own story, not just storytelling period.
“People always talk about having to go through the struggles to get on top of the mountain, so to speak, and I feel like this was that for me. I’m leading the listeners through the struggle to get to the top of mountain with Kentucky Gold. And it just it really felt appropriate for me to release these songs now.”
Although he started recording the new music back in 2020, like the rest of the world he was forced to play the waiting game until the time was right.
“I had to wait and see what was going to happen, I had lots of discussion with different people and they all liked the product, but due to covid no-one was willing to jump on board and sign on the dotted line.
“Ultimately, I’ve been waiting on this moment so I could release the record, get it out into the ether, book a tour around it and see how people appreciate it. An artist of my size can’t take risks of booking shows that may get cancelled due to covid so it’s been tricky, but I am definitely surprised and excited by the way folks are taking to the music, especially overseas.
“I feel that things have heated up a lot quicker there, as it always seems to. It seems like the folks over the pond understand who Kyle Daniel is more so than the people here.”
Meeting UK fans in Nashville
He was thrilled to join up with some of his UK fans from the C2C Attendees group during CMA Fest – who clearly led him astray as he jokes he told his wife Kristen he was popping out for a couple of drinks and rolled home in the early hours.
“It was great to be able to re-connect with them for the first time in about three years, to feel that energy, we had an amazing time,” he says.
He can’t wait to get back to the UK in August, where he’ll be playing Nashville Meets London and The Long Road and, talking to Kyle, you can feel the love that both from – and for – his fans keeps him going, something much needed during difficult times.
Kyle is open about what he describes as the “crippling depression” he suffered from after covid temporarily derailed all his career plans, including his long-awaited C2C 2020 appearance in London.
As a new artist, he worried that his career in Nashville was “2-3 years overdue in a 10-year-town” but, having chased his musical dream for over half his life, he is clear that he won’t stop until he gets there – hence he’ll continue to fight his way through the dark clouds and follow the rain.
He admits that writing Following The Rain was both tough and cathartic, and he pays tribute to co-writers Adam Wright and Seth Renfrow for their support.
“We got together at Carnival Music one day and I had that song title burning in my notepad, it was just calling me to write about it. It was one of those in the moment, sign of the times kind of songs for each one of us.
“I think that every one of us were feeling that Following The Rain emotion. When a song is resonating with everyone and you’re not the only person in the room having that cathartic experience, it’s easier for three of you to get on the same wavelength. You feel less stressy versus it being like ‘oh shit, I’m the only person feeling this right now – my co-worker has no f…ing clue what I’m talking about.’”
It helps too that all three are good friends and long-time musical collaborators – look out for a fair proportion of songs penned by Adam when Kentucky Gold hits the streets.
While Running from Me is a great foot-stomper and bound to be a festival favourite, it is also quite a dark song…the lyrics deal with having a chip on your shoulder, running from yourself and proving people wrong. Another tick in the Kyle Daniel honesty box.
With Father’s Day this weekend, Kyle is pinning his hopes on Me & My Old Man getting some serious airtime. Neither mawkish or soppy, he describes it as a personal memoir to his dad.
His father is very much alive – although the lyric line ‘Seems like I miss him more as every day keeps flying on by’ could suggest otherwise. He makes the point that it is intended to mean different things to different people
“You know, I’m in Nashville and he’s 60 miles away from me, and he just became a grandfather, so I miss watching that. The lyrics could mean a host of different things and we flared it so you could think either way. I kind of spun it so folks who maybe don’t have their dad around could really potentially hit a serious thought inside of them.”
The song was written before Kyle became a father to baby Archie and he hasn’t missed the poignancy of having both a son and such a song in quick succession. He says however, that the goal with Me & My Old Man was to write about his dad and any song about being a dad is yet to come. When it does, I suggest a tissue warning for those of a sensitive nature, as he suggests it’ll probably be the “heaviest” one he’s ever written.
As a farmer’s son of the Kentucky soil, Kyle identifies strongly with the hard-working blue-collar families and communities that he grew up around, coining the phrase “working man’s country” to describe his music, and comes up with the lovely line “It is the ‘punch the timeclock’ kind of southern country music”.
He likes to write about subjects close to his heart that will resonate with his audience and, when it came to the final track on the EP, he wanted to keep it close to home too.
Hollerin’ Hills tells the story of the 2019 protest which saw thousands of coalminers from Kentucky and its neighbouring states block coal trains from leaving the coalfields until they were paid monies they were owed.
“I had this Hollerin’ Hills idea and as a songwriter – particularly a Kentucky songwriter – the go-to would be moonshine, but I feel that is so played out and something so many people are trying to write about. It’s like beginning to feel like it’s not authentic and moonshining is not the only way of life.
“This was about a real-life struggle. I wanted to write a song and I had the idea for the title – more often than not every single song comes from a title. If it’s an interesting title and it peaks your interest and makes you want to listen, then you’re on to something.”
The result is a rousing humdinger of a protest song which, despite being released on its own as a digital single way back in September 2020, truly deserves its place on this EP in search of a wider audience.
Roll on August when we can finally see Kyle Daniel on the UK stage where he belongs.
Following The Rain is available to download from all the usual streaming services.
Following The Rain tracklist
- Runnin’ From Me
- Everybody’s Talkin’
- Following The Rain
- Me & My Old Man
- Hollerin’ Hills
Kyle Daniel Live:
August 21 – Isernhagen Lindsay Ell support
August 22 – Munich Lindsay Ell support
August 23 – Cologne Lindsay Ell support
August 24 – Berlin Lindsay Ell support
August 25 – Nashville Meets London Festival
August 28 – The Long Road Festival, Lutterworth