The Nashville country-rock singer-songwriter opens up about hard times and shares the music video for the title track of his upcoming album.
Things are going much better now for Boo Ray than they were when he wrote “Sea of Lights,” the new single off his album of the same name.
“I’ve been held up and broke down in Nashville,” goes the first line, an apparent reference to being robbed at gunpoint when he was already barely scraping by, then having that setback followed by mechanical disaster that forced him to abandon his car on the side of the road.
“Things have totally transformed into a totally different situation,” he says recently by phone. “I hustled up a little publishing deal when everything was bottoming out.”
The money could have paid his next few months’ living expenses, he says, but rather than waste the cash on frivolities like food, he headed to Los Angeles to record with producer Noah Shain on an Ampex 2-inch tape machine — the same one on which Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline was recorded. Ray went into White Buffalo Studio with a dream team of a band, including drummer Steve Ferrone (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), bassist Paul Ill (Christina Aguilera, Gov’t Mule), and twin background vocalists Todd and Troy Garner (Lenny Kravitz, The Seventh Hour). The musicians recorded with everyone playing and singing together in a room, with only baffles and Persian rugs for sound separation. The result is a very raucous and live-sounding album that brought out Ray and the other players’ best, he says.
“You could absolutely tell the difference,” he says. “It’s not just about the tape machine. It’s about the relationship the producer has with the tape machine. Basically, the tape machine and producer are another band member. That’s how impactful it is. ... You respond differently to what you’re hearing in your earphones, so the band plays different. It’s almost metaphysical.”
Ray describes the new album, set for an August 12 release, as “redneck, hellraising, hillbilly stuff — more hillbilly than redneck” and “a trucker record.”
If you’re a trucker, redneck, hillbilly, hellraiser, or just a plain old Americana music fan, check out the video, an exclusive C&I premiere. You can catch Ray at The Country in Nashville at 5 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday, July 21) or at upcoming gigs in Colorado and Texas if you like what you hear.