Whilst waiting for the fish to bite White would immerse himself in classic country. “Yeah, that’s pretty much true,” he affirms. “I fell in love with it. The first country music that I ever really listened to was Hank Jr, that was back when I was in middle school. I kinda just went back in time from there, and that’s still what I’m continuing to do every day when I’m listening to music… and explore, I’m just digging, digging… trying to find singers that I like. “The singers that don’t get the credit like the Mount Rushmore guys [Jones, Haggard etc] do, those are my guys. Of course I love those guys [Haggard etc] and I listen to those every day.” There’s often something of a 60s/70s feel about the songs on Southern Gentleman. From a melodic progression to a swooping strings production, and White reckons it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Tell The World I Do has shades of Dusty Springfield about it. “That comes from two of the players on that album have been playing on Dusty Springfield records,” says White. The song also features the unmistakable Alison Krauss providing harmony, as she does on three more songs across the album. “It’s extremely flattering that she would want to sing with me,” says White, whose vibrato and effortless tone had floored the bluegrass great. “I actually ended up going on the road with Alison after we had made the album. It was because of that relationship I believe,” adds White. Possibly even more notable though are the first single Crazy Man - released late last year when the first six tracks of the album were made available on-line as “Side A” - and a duet with Ashley McBryde on a beautiful song that could’ve come from Bobby Goldbroro or Jimmy Webb, Road That Goes Both Ways. White admits to getting lucky with the duet. “She had just signed with the management company that manages Dan Auerbach and we had written this song. When we finished it up it sound like [it should] be a duet. Then when we got in the studio, Dan called his manager asking for a female to come and sing with me and connected on Ashley.” Whether it’s an arrangement of which Chet Atkins might have been proud, or the backing vocals on Way Down, there is an undeniable classic feel to many of the songs. Whilst that wasn’t deliberate at the time of writing, “Oh, absolutely not,” asserts White. “I don’t know if ‘deliberate’ really exists when we write. We just kind of go in with whatever we’re feeling there at the time. There’s certainly never any thoughts of ‘this reminds us of this era’ or whatever. Really, everything’s written with an acoustic 24 cmp - MAY 2019 guitar so a lot of those vibes may come with production, so however that turns out is however people are feeling at the moment.” However, one of the objectives was to “try and write standards” going into the project, which is White’s approach to songwriting anyway. “Absolutely. I definitely relate that to writing… Things that you hear and think ‘I swear I’ve heard that before’ and you haven’t. That’s what I love. “I love musical stuff, I like lyrics too, but I’m probably more of a fan of the musical side than most country artists. Melodies and signature licks and things like that. I just love all that stuff and it kinda falls by the way in some music nowadays.” Dee White is quick to credit his producer for the ‘sound’ they’ve achieved. “Dan Auerbach… also, David Ferguson had a lot to do with that I would say. He co-produced the album and he has a plethora of knowledge on older country music and stuff like that. Dan does too, but Fergie was around and making that music.” The path to Southern Gentleman provided a wealth of songs, which were whittled down to two dozen. That means there’s another album’s worth of material already recorded and potentially available as ‘bonus cuts’ or even the next release. “I’m not gonna say for sure that they’ll resurface but they have not been discarded. I’m sure that they’ll go on some future stuff. I’ll put it like this, they’re all songs that we thought were good enough to take into the tracking room and record,” White assures. Potentially at odds with US country radio, Southern Gentleman oozes charm, a charm that might mean it’s more likely to be appreciated in Americana quarters. White states, “I was confident, of course, because I was there during the tracking and things like that. I knew it was going to be good, but I was still surprised when we got the master back, after all the overdubs and things like that because I wasn’t able to be around for everything. “I think this is today’s country music, regardless of sound, and the way it sounds. It’s brand new music so there’s that, if you know what I mean. I haven’t really thought about that stuff, I really don’t care what other people’s shit sounds like. I like a lot of it, but I don’t want to sound like anybody else. It seems that when people make records, that’s what they’re scared of these days, not fitting in. I’ve never cared about that, be it music, or whatever else I was doing. We’re doing what we think feels right.” cmp Dee White: Southern Gentleman is out now.