He was named one of the "10 country artists you need to know" by Rolling Stone. We sat down with Will Stewart to talk about his full length solo album, County Seat, and how moving back to Birmingham influenced the sound of the record.
Will Stewart returned to Birmingham in 2016 after spending a decade in the Nashville music scene earning his stripes as a songwriter, frontman, and lead guitarist. Moving back home to Birmingham, Will rediscovered a great source of inspiration: the Modern South. Birmingham’s complicated history, it’s open spaces and strange beauty inspired Will to begin writing a collection of songs that would later become his first full-length solo debut, County Seat.
County Seat’s nine tracks were recorded in a series of live takes over two days at Ol Elegante, a studio here in Birmingham. The album was produced by Lester Nuby, III, known for his work with artists like St. Paul and the Broken Bones and St. Vincent. The tracks are led by Stewart, who handles singing and guitar-playing duties, and perfectly convey Stewart’s goal of turning the landscape of his home state into music. It marks a bit of a departure for Stewart moving away from collaborating with other musicians and writers to making an album where he had total creative control. The result is something that feels both personal and intimate.
County Seat is also a record about time. Many of the songs deal with reflecting on the past with nostalgia, finding peace with the present and the transitional feelings that come from rediscovering your home town with a new perspective. County Seat also feels connected to nature. That’s not just a coincidence, Stewart wanted this Album to reflect the natural beauty of the rural parts of Alabama. County Seat is packed with the rootsy sounds of pedal steel, finger picked guitar and references to places and feelings that create a “love letter to Alabama”.
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