Written by: Mikala Lugen
Billy Strings Defies Genres In New Album, ‘Renewal’ [Watch/Listen]
Billy Strings has released his anticipated third LP, Renewal, out today via Rounder Records.
Following his 2019 Grammy award-winning Home, Renewal serves as a reflection of Strings’ own musical influences and reaches well beyond bluegrass, incorporating elements of heavy metal, jam, psychedelic, and classic rock. Produced by Jonathan Wilson (Roger Waters, Father John Misty) and recorded at Nashville’s Sound Emporium Studios, the 16-track collection highlights Strings and his band’s exploration of new sonic textures and instrumentation.
Alongside his touring bandmates – Billy Failing (banjo, vocals, piano), Royal Masat (bass, vocals), and Jarrod Walker (mandolin, vocals, guitar) – Strings sets out into uncharted territory in the new studio album. Bringing on album guests John Mailander (violin), Spencer Cullum Jr. (pedal steel), and Grant Millikem (synths), Strings showcases his versatility and genre-defying sound through tracks like progressive bluegrass anthem “Heartbeat of America” and violin-led “Show Me The Door” to mix in more elements across the sonic spectrum into his iconic bluegrass sound.
“Heartbeat Of America” – Billy Strings
[Video: Billy Strings]
“Love and Regret” highlights Strings’ strength not only as a bluegrass picker but also as an expressive vocalist. The spoken-word interlude verse over the slow bluegrass backing portrays a dream-like atmosphere. Marking just over nine minutes, “Hide And Seek” is one of the two tracks next to “Fire Line” where songwriting credits are given to the whole group. As the longest track on the album, the song takes listeners on a musical journey where all members showcase their talents through a frenzied built-up climax surrounding the melody.
“Fire Line” – Billy Strings
[Video: Billy Strings]
In addition to the genre-defying instrumentation, the Michigan-native also shares more of a personal touch to his lyrics on the album, boasting 13 songwriting credits on the album.
“I called my last record Home, and then a few months later that’s where we all got stuck,” Strings says. “Right now, we’re heading back into opening back up, and doing some more touring with real concerts and real shows. Hopefully we can renew everything. I think it’s an interesting word. It reminds me of how every morning is a renewed day and another chance.”
The “renewal” concept doesn’t stop at the music. The album’s artwork features a photo taken by Strings’ friend and skateboarder, Tyler Franz. The yellow flowers send a message of blooming hope and inspiration of love and community to the world.
Listen and stream Renewal below and all streaming platforms here. The bluegrass artist just played a sold-out show at Salt Lake City, UT’s Red Butte Garden earlier this week and continues his extensive six-month tour tonight for a two-night run at Buena Vista, CO’s The Meadows. For a full list of upcoming tour dates, visit his website.
1) “Know it All”
3) “Love and Regret”
4) “Heartbeat of America”
5) “In the Morning Light”
6) “This Old World”
7) “Show Me the Door”
9) “Red Daisy”
10) “The Fire on my Tongue”
11) “Nothing’s Working”
12) “Hide and Seek”
13) “Ice Bridges”
14) “Fire Line”
15) “Runnin’ the Route”