Originally released January 7, 2020
"The idea for All Over Alabama was conceived on a long drive from Little Rock to Louisville in 2016. Listening to the guitarist William Tyler’s new album Modern Country, set against the rolling hills of southern Kentucky with the trailer parks and long-abandoned barns and shacks along the way set some ideas in motion. Tyler’s album sounded like some vague wager: slow and contemplative like Brian Eno, but with the same instrumentation you’d find on a Buckaroos record. New ideas for old habits.
Modern Country said something about the landscape of the deindustrialized South, but I didn’t think it said anything about the people that inhabited it before or after. I wanted to make some kind of music that did the opposite of what top 40 country had been doing for the past few decades. A kind of music that held onto the familiar sounds of southern music, but that could speak to our actual shared experience of growing up here. A new kind of country music language that sounded like James Agee’s version of the American South, or that resonated in the same way as Dylan’s ‘Only a Pawn in Their Game’ but in some way I couldn’t describe.
I put that idea on the backburner for a few years. In the meantime I played in rock bands and tried different tried and true composition methods for avant garde music, but kept dreaming up different ways I could put together this ambient country record that I imagined. In the fall of 2019 it occurred to me that some of these composition methods I’d tinkered with might be the solution, specifically generative music. Generative music is exactly what it sounds like; a composition that unfolds and develops on its own with just a few moving parts. I started to look at that specific way of making music as the way of the future of compostion to some extent. The only real way to automate the form in the same way that so many other trades seem to have been. If part of the economic/cultural situation of the South could be chalked up to automation, why not make music that reflects that?
In two separate sessions, one for each piece on the album, I went to Eric Michael Witthan’s Homestead Studio early in the morning with a few half baked ideas. I tracked guitars, keyboards, and harmonicas as fast as I could to keep the bill low, and surprisingly the results were everything I’d hoped for and a little bit more. Lay down a 30 second track, loop it. Lay down a 21 second track, loop it. On and on. After a couple of hours, we’d have a piece of music. One that could go on and evolve indefinitely. Some of my friends said it sounded cinematic western music, but I hope it sounds like walking to Main Street in my hometown or getting up early to drive to Memphis. Maybe it doesn’t, but I think it sounds okay anyway."
released September 18, 2020
Recorded at Homestead Studios in Fayetteville, AR at the end of 2019.
Engineered by Eric Michael Witthans.
Guitars, keys, and harmonica by Austin Cash.