Like many artists, 2020 was a time of remake. Off the road and back to life with their family, creativity was an afterthought. In the end, Drew and Ellie Holcomb are back on the road, exploring Tennessee, and being inspired to write again – Ellie for her third album. Can youn in 2021, and dozens of other songs that Drew wrote for his band Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors. The couple also wrote and compiled songs together Homecoming: a collection of songs (Magnolia music).
back home It is a return to the familiar and the life the couple built together around their three children Emmylou, Huck and Rivers, their 15-year marriage, and music. Featuring the new single “Coming Home,” the album also includes Willie Nelson’s introduction “On The Road Again” and a more recent version of “Hung The Moon,” which the couple previously recorded for a 2009 release. A million miles away When Elle was still with Drew Holcomb and Neighbors.
“I wrote Hung the Moon after a long season of listening to a lot of Lucinda Williams,” American songwriter Ellie told about the track. “It’s always been a song that I feel like home to me. Drew was playing these chords in the kitchen one day, and I stole them on the spot and wrote a love song about him.”
back home It also contains two songs released in 2021, written about the couples road trip as part of the Tennessee tourism drive, including “Feels Like Home” and the more innovative song “Hey Rivers,” a tribute to the energy of their youngest son.
Now ready to go on the road again, with the family on The You and Me Tour: An Evening with Drew & Ellie Holcomb, named after the couple’s first single, “You and Me,” in 2018, Holcombs is set to play the role Two months of dates in major cities across the United States and the making of new music.
Drew and Ellie spoke to the American songwriter About collection of songs for back home, writing together again, revisiting “Hung the Moon” with a “new” voice, beautiful balancing art of three children and music.
American songwriter: The past three years have really delivered all the pieces Homecoming: a collection of songs. Although all the songs were composed in different time periods, what ties these nine songs together?
Drew Holcomb: In 2018, I realized we hadn’t toured together in nearly five or six years, since we went our separate ways, creatively, between those years, so we said “Let’s go do an audio tour of sorts.” When we decided to go on tour, we also started writing two new songs and in the first year we had “You and I”, then we wrote “Fields of Gold”, and two more like “Electricity” and “Love Anyway” and [covered] “On the road again.” We just had such a pile of songs that we put into streaming services. We never put them on actual physical copies.
We also have the song “Hung the Moon,” which Eli has been begging us to re-record for years. She was a fan favorite, and she was recorded when she was still a part of the group [Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors]. Everything was recorded during different time periods. It’s not a record, per se, but more of a compilation, a collection of songs over time.
Eli Holcomb: It’s a scrapbook. Drew and I have been artists in their own right, and for many years, we’ve had this kind of broad orbit that crosses, basically at home. It’s a beautiful soundtrack of our musical journeys back together and intertwined not only with the home we know and make together. It’s the soundtrack to what sounded like they meet again, musically. It’s our snapshot of the years this has happened.
AS: I’m back at Hanging the Moon after more than a decade. Does this song still resonate with both of you, especially since you’ve taken such a long journey now, alongside The Neighbors and as individual artists?
E.H.: really no. It’s one of the first songs I wrote on my own that we released, as I was leading the voice. When I listen to that song, it’s still been good since the day I wrote it, so I’m thankful for that. It’s one of those songs that our fans have really come to love over the years. Many people have used it as their first dance. We didn’t attend their wedding, but we were kind of there through the music, so it’s nice to re-record that. When I first listened to it, it sounded like a little version of myself as a singer, so it’s really good, out loud, to catch up with who I am today, which is a little more mature. I’ve had many hours of singing since then so it’s a fresh take on an old favorite song.
AS: Has your family trip through Tennessee had any lasting effects on your music, or how do you want to handle it all in the future?
DH: It was definitely a landmark event during a very strange time. These songs are my favorite thing that we should carry with us from that. We had a great time with our family, but these two songs, especially “Feels Like Home”, have become fan favorites. “Hey Rivers” was definitely a moment in time, and it talks about the youngest of us, a kind of wild guy.
E.H.: He requests that song more than anyone in our family.
as: How do you balance a full-fledged music career and three kids?
DH: It’s a tag team effort. We are a classic example of what “take a village” does everything.
E.H.: Everything a village requires: music and childcare. None of us are supposed to live life alone. We happen to be on stage, reminding people of that day in and day out.
AS: As a songwriter, do you feel that songs still come to you in the same way, individually and collectively?
DH: We obviously have different answers, but Ellie just set a record [Canyon] That came from a very fruitful time writing her. At the beginning of Covid, I had a really hard time. I love playing in front of an audience, so being without that was very frustrating. When we started coming back, it wasn’t our regular, regular tour, but just being outdoors in the summer and some shows in the fall. , I started writing again. I’m on a heater for sure. I’ve been writing more and just booked a bunch of studio time, so I’m hoping to get as many recorded songs as possible.
Obviously with the kids and all the mid-career responsibilities, I think we both have to make time to write songs. Gathering and compiling ideas without actually having time to put together a song requires physical blocking of time and sticking to schedules. I don’t want to speak for both of us, but I do believe that as we get older my confidence is at an all-time high, not in an arrogant sense. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I love it, and COVID reminded me how much I love doing it. It’s more confidence than I’ve had in a long time.
E.H.: And you can hear it, it’s really beautiful. Writing to me feels like breathing. I’ll do it, whether I have the time or not. You spill it on plane rides and car trips, or in the kitchen while you’re cooking, kids running around. In a lot of my voice memos, you’ll hear phones and chaos in the background, because that’s kind of real life, this mess in society, kids, and work. I always call myself a selfish songwriter, because I write only to address my pain and my happiness. This is what happened with the last record. I would allow myself to grieve and lament, which is not my goal, but there was a lot of healing that came because I allowed myself to do it. This record is an audio version of healing and hope, even in the midst of so much grief. It felt so triumphant to write and record those songs in the middle of a year full of loss and grief.
Writing happens together, but it’s probably the rarest because we both have our own artist instincts. We often write separately, but we really have to intentionally write together.
I was just asking Drew when to write songs.
as: I know the pandemic has affected both of you creatively. Getting out of this, has it affected what kind of songs you are drawn to now?
E.H.: I feel like I can answer this better than he can [laughs].
DH: Can Ellie answer for me?
as: Yes, of course.
E.H.: I think the songs he’s writing now are literally born and written out of this deep gratitude. We, like many artists, wondered if we would ever play in front of people again. Obviously you can still write songs, but there’s a deep gratitude for what we’re doing because this life we’re living is crazy. It’s a bit messy. We ship at night sometimes. Sometimes we’re in a different city every night, so I guess sometimes that just feels like a mess. But when it was taken from us, we realized how much we really love her and are grateful for what we do, so his songs are based on deep gratitude.
AS: It seems like “coming home” covers everything we’ve been talking about, balancing.
DH: for us [The Neighbors] Guitarist Nathan [Dugger] He wrote that song. We rarely clip songs we didn’t write. He just writes with me or Ellie’s voice in mind, like a straight-forward kind of channel to us. We have cut some of his songs in the past. When he played that song for me, I said “Please let’s record that.” It felt like he wrote it to us.
E.H.: It’s funny because they only recorded the song using Drew, and when I heard it, I loved it so much.
DH: She made her way to the song.
E.H.: I love it so much, and it resonates deeply with me and out of the year, when we really should have come home more than we did before. I realized we have this beautiful home with each other and with our children, and also in our music, so it’s like a meeting place, a gathering place, from our living room to every stage we didn’t play.
DH: When you have to start from scratch, which means you don’t have all those rounds, and you’re back to writing, you don’t want to play by the rules as much. Some of my latest songs like “Family” and “Without a Light” [both released in 2021]None of them match the chorus. The single from my last “Apocalypse” recording starts with the chorus. I totally embrace the mentality that changing songs is a good thing. Starting with the chorus is fine. I have a wide range of genre influence and totally embrace that. I plan to record 25 to 30 songs. My team and I, we’re shooting all cylinders again, because of that gratitude to be back on stage.
E.H.: You seem to be having more fun than ever… and we’ve never had a bad time before.
Photos: Ashten Paige