Everything Has Your Memory (Official Audio)
For more than 20 years, singer-songwriter Wade Bowen has nurtured a deep and abiding love affair with country music. But like any relationship, the passion behind it has ebbed and flowed.
A proud member of the Texan troubadour tradition, Bowen’s independent streak has taken him far beyond his home state’s creative borders, bringing both artistic respect and the cold-hard currency of national success along with it. Six studio albums filled with unmistakable vocals, self-penned prairie-land poetry and a roadhouse rocker’s edge led to dozens of Texas radio hits, a digital tally of nearly 225 million streams and thousands of headlining shows – and slowly, it all took a toll.
Writer’s block and a vocal surgery finally shut Bowen down in 2018, forcing his first break in years. He was still recovering when the pandemic followed, leaving him adrift and unsure of his musical heading… But love always finds a way. Bowen’s new album, Somewhere Between The Secret And The Truth, marks his first new solo material in four years. And clearly, the creative spark is back.
“It feels like I’m renewing my vows,” Bowen says of the album. “I love waking up knowing what my purpose is, what my direction is, and also feeling like there’s so much more left to do. I didn’t feel that for a long time, but now I feel revived.”
Featuring 12 new tracks, all written by Bowen with a small group of Nashville’s sharpest minds – Lori McKenna, Heather Morgan, Eric Paslay and Randy Montana among them – the revival brings Bowen back into his wheelhouse, back to what he’s always done best. But it’s also a step forward.
Exacting lyrics filled with vivid detail and often-conflicted characters; gritty landscapes and a warm vocal that buzzes like a neon sign – those things remain. For the first time, though, Bowen also takes on the role of sole producer, adding another element to his uncompromising vision.
Drawing on ‘80s and ‘90s country and dreaming of a return to the stage, each track on Somewhere Between The Secret And The Truth was built for maximum live-show impact, embracing the keep-it-simple motto he’d long left behind.
“I wanted to make sure we didn’t overthink these songs,” Bowen explains. “There’s not a bunch of minor chords or eerie, intensity-driven stuff – even though I’ve always had a lot of pride in those moments in the past. This record is written simply and that’s on purpose, to have enough space to be big and for the band to go somewhere with it.”
Also going back to basics in the studio, Bowen booked time in Nashville and re-enlisted his core session team – the ones who helped create his bold sound in the first place. Having changed things up on 2018’s Solid Ground, he once again called on If We Ever Make It Home guitarists Tom Bukovac and Jedd Hughes, while drummer Chad Cromwell laid down the set’s driving rhythms. The group had already recorded what Bowen thought was the entire project when suddenly, an idea struck him.
Offering a new take on a classic cheating ballad – one that matches moral ambiguity with striking realism and an optimistic payoff – the idea became “Somewhere Between The Secret And The Truth.” It gave the album its thematic anchor.
“I think it sums up our collective feelings in the last few years, and also sums up country music in one great line,” Bowen says. “We’re all roaming this earth somewhere between the secret and the truth, and this is a great way to show the characters I love to write about. What we choose to reveal to others – or not reveal – really says a lot about who we are.”
Starting off with the melody-driven single, “Everything Has Your Memory,” the album showcases that complexity. A heartbroken anthem that somehow doesn’t feel sad, it’s a track engrained with forward momentum, even as it looks to a long-gone romantic past.
Meanwhile, tracks like “Honky Tonk Roll” and “She’s Driving Me Crazy” speak to his retro-country headspace, offering fans a Texas-sized share of ‘90s dancehall energy – and one woozy bridge that put his control-board courage to the test.
Elsewhere the artist crafts emotional turmoil into a series of three minute mini-novels, and within the plainspoken poetry his new vigor is clear. Teaming with GRAMMY Award winning co-writer Lori McKenna on “A Beautiful World,” for example, wistful memories of small-town perfection lead a stunning call to collective action – or perhaps non-action.
Written via Zoom in the depths of early 2020, it was the first time in years that Bowen and the “Humble and Kind” author had paired up – but their connection was immediate, he says. What they found was rejuvenating … not just for his love affair with music, but for his faith in humanity, too.
“I was just so tired,” Bowen explains. “Everywhere you turned – TV, social media – everything was always so negative. It was always like ‘What a rough spot our country is in! We’re all against each other! There are so many bad things happening!’ No one was talking about anything good. My original idea was ‘I wish everyone would quit trying to change the world, because it’s a beautiful place.’ And really, the world could be a much better place, if we just choose to look at it that way.”
Likewise, the incomparable Vince Gill appears on “A Guitar, A Singer and A Song,” helping Bowen remember why he loved this job in the first place. Calling Gill one of his all-time heroes, Bowen first asked the ‘90s superstar to contribute harmony vocals. But Gill, identifying so strongly with the simple-yet-illuminating look into a country artist’s life, graced the tune with both an acoustic guitar solo and a heartfelt verse. It captured the essence of the track, and where Bowen has ended up.
“We don’t think about it a whole lot until we get a couple decades into our career,” Bowen says. “‘Have I done enough that people will remember me?’
“For me, I’m at a spot where I really feel like these songs are the songs I want to play – more than anything I’ve ever done,” he goes on. “I’m just smiling more. I feel like I’m in a really good zone right now. And I’m ready to roll.”