If you were to write an intro for “Love Thy Neighbor,” before it played on the radio, what would you want listeners to know about the song?

That it was written in good fun. It’s a play on words. I don’t condone cheating. I also don’t condone small town hypocrisy, which is what the song is really about at its core.


6 Things You Don’t Know About Me:As a teenager, you were a dancer, training with Canada’s prestigious Alberta Ballet. What dance is your favorite to perform?

Giselle is my favorite ballet; the choreography is beautiful but it’s the story that first entranced me. It gets at the full range of human experience, love, madness, suicide, afterlife, revenge, sacrifice. ghosts and graveyards, coated in layers of toile. 

Earning a degree in Film Production & Creative Writing at The University of British ColumbiaThe Godfather is considered one of the best made movies of all time. Which other movies, production wise, would you say should be in the top five?

That’s nearly impossible! I have a soft spot for noirs and westerns; Gilda, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Night of the Hunter, No Country For Old Men. I also always return to The Graduate.  Your love of southern literature led you to Music City. Two books in the genre, To Kill A Mockingbird and The Color Purple, have been made into classic movies. What other book in the genre would you like to see made into a film?

Hmm. Adaptations are interesting: I truly feel that the best literature takes full advantage of its medium; it exploits the advantages and limitations of the written word. Because of that I feel a lot of what makes great books great is lost in translation. The Last Picture Show is a rare example of a story that stands up well in both film and novel form. (Inversely, most of my favorite movies did not start as books).

However, film adaptations are still worthwhile, not least because they represent a great paycheck for their writer! To this end I’d love to see an adaption of “Boys of Alabama” by Genevieve Hudson. It was one of my favorite new novels of the past few years; it pushes the boundaries of what southern gothic can be. It also manages to strike a balance between grotesque and uplifting; firmly grounded in the strangeness of our times, while offering room for Hope.

Debut single, “Treasure” (co-written and performed by Mary-Heather Hickman), charted on Billboard. Can you share what inspired the co-write?

Tequila! And Mary Heather’s terrible taste in men 😉 in all seriousness we had so much fun with this song. We spent a lot of time on it. We’re both obsessive when it comes to wordplay and visual detail.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Soup beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, and something fresh from the garden.

If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?

I’d like to live through the 70’s. Or to spend time in a medieval convent.

Can you share 12 songs that have influenced your life and career?

“Angel From Montgomery” John Prine

I think we’ve all related to that woman at the kitchen sink just wondering how the hell she got to where she is.

“Ultraviolence” Lana Del Rey

The things this album made me do in college. Yikes. Still, I look up to Lana so much as a “pop culture icon” because when she broke, she was the first mainstream female in YEARS to present a point of view that was not positive, not empowering. Life is hard, love hurts, and self-destruction is tempting; I felt much more represented in her lyrics than I did in the saccharine power bops of most female artists at the time.

“Genevieve” Old Crow Medicine Show

They were my gateway drug into country and roots music. I love their whole catalogue, but this is a deep cut that deserves more attention. 

The entire Turnpike Troubadours catalogue

I honestly can’t pick a single song. The lyrics manage to be so conversational and poetic at the same time. They tell short stories. Their ability to paint pictures with words and write songs that are simultaneously literary and great for dancing. And their rootsy, yearning production is icing on the cake.

“Hungover” Brandy Clark

Her production skews a little too music row for my taste but I return perennially to her lyrics and vocal technique. I think I’ve learned more about writing songs from her than anyone else. The storytelling. The elegance and efficiency in which she’s able to get information across. It reminds me of screenwriting. That, and her focus on painting portraits of people who might be ignored my mainstream country music. She has an unflinching observational eye. Her first two albums are masterpieces. 

Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings

Again, I can’t pick one single song. I’m more of an album person than a single person. “Acony Bell” has been a favorite lately. 

The Milk Carton Kids

For their gorgeous melodies and harmonies. 

Tony Rice

For his interpretation of bluegrass standards.

Ralph Stanley

For that high lonesome sound. 

“Vice” Miranda Lambert

I think the world of Miranda. She walks the line between commercial success and artistic integrity better than anyone I know. This song pushes the boundaries just enough while still sounding like a radio single. (Also props to how much she highlights and credits songwriters.) 

George Jones

Duh. That voice. Closely tied with Hank Sr. The poetry of his lyrics. 

Tammy Wynette

For the same reasons as Lana Del Rey