NEW YORK -- August 26, 2021 -- Noel McKay was discovered back in 1993 by legendary songwriter Guy Clark along with his brother, Hollin, with their duo The McKay Brothers; three decades later, his ability to write the kinds of smart, insightful and sometimes slyly humorous songs that initially caught Clark’s attention remains the cornerstone of the music he makes today. The first single from Blue, Blue, Blue (Oct. 8), “The 50 Loneliest Places In The Nation,” is out now.
The song was inspired by a dream McKay had and then promptly recorded into a voice memo -- in the dream he was scrolling through the internet and stumbled upon a clickbait article with the same focus, and before he knew it, Roger Miller was singing the dream-chorus.
“It’s a fantasy world to climb inside — music is a new language, in a way, with cultural references and commentary,” the songwriter says. McKay has his own unique brand of insight: it’s subtle, sometimes, which makes sense — the songwriter is also currently working on a degree in molecular biology.
“Music has its own separate means of communication that transcends language,” he continues. “It’s capable of wordlessly evoking emotions, experiences, and cultural references in ways that, for all my trying, I’ve never completely understood. I suppose that by learning a bunch of music theory, I was looking for some kind of science behind why a particular combination of notes can evoke such deep feelings. When you couple music with a good story, something very powerful can emerge. Trying to lash both of those things together in a believable way has been my life’s work so far.”
Blue, Blue, Blue, is more straightforward and light than McKay’s past collections, centering around longing, whether it’s longing the experiences of a lost relationship, longing to undo unwise decisions, longing for the way one’s home city was, longing to travel, longing to have one’s story told. It’s taken close to a decade for the record to come to fruition, which he started back when The McKay Brothers stopped playing together regularly.
The title track is a candid breakup song, much of the inspiration for which comes from personal experience, though there’s a bit of creative license taken. “Somebody, Someway, Somewhere” chronicles the experience of living somewhere a previous partner may have also lived in not so long ago, and “Sleeping In My Car” is about a brief period when Noel was often sleeping in the backseat of his 1998 Chevy Cheyenne in various parking lots around the Austin area.
“Flying And Falling” was written with Guy Clark, who also recorded a song the pair co-wrote (“El Coyote”) for his Grammy-winning album, My Favorite Picture of You. Noel also notes a guitar the two built together is featured prominently on the album.
“Real Cowboy,” written with Brennen Leigh, with whom he also shares the duo McKay and Leigh, was composed during one of their trips from Nashville to Austin, where they each built a loyal following in the years they lived there. “Lurlene,” co-written with Becky Warren, is about Noel’s grandmother and a later-in-life job she procured. He notes she’s 96 and “still as awesome as ever.”
“Get A Bag Of Ice” and “Pawnee Waltz” both center around a bit of Texas homesickness; “When This Town Was Cool” tells the story of the proverbial “remember when” resident. Things were always better when they first moved to town. Sometimes the refrain sounds familiar.
Album closer “You Oughta Write A Song About That” recalls the song ideas well-meaning listeners mention after a show.
“I play music because it’s my way of expressing my reality, even when I’m looking at someone else’s and writing about that,” Noel says. “It’s a way to express joy, anguish, and the emotions in between.
Press Contact: Sarah Frost - 817-559-9499