Get a first listen to this new tune — featuring Mickey Raphael and Randy Houser — off the Trick Pony alum’s bluesy new solo album, The Barfly Sessions.
Heidi Newfield dares you not to feel something when you listen to her new song “Whitley’s Tombstone,” which you can do right here, right now, before it comes out on her new solo album, The Barfly Sessions, on August 28.
Formerly with country band Trick Pony — where she was lead singer, rhythm guitarist, and harmonica player from 1996 until going solo in 2006 — Newfield says the new tune is ““as country, honest, sparse, and strong as its message and title.”
It’s one of only two outside songs — ones she didn’t write — on the 14-track LP.
“When it was pitched to me, I immediately stopped in my tracks,” Newfield says. “I was completely drawn in to the beautifully painful and sparsely powerful lyric and the elegant but honest stone-country melody. I knew I had to record it.”
She immediately knew it would make a stunning duet. “So I called my friend Randy Houser, who came in on his only day off the road and completely slayed his part. He’s such a soulful singer and I knew our voices would blend so well.”
She also called another buddy, Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson), who blew some haunting harmonica.
“The song was brilliantly written by Leslie Satcher, Kent Blazy, and Jon Randall and paints such a raw and truthful picture of love lost,” Newfield says. “It has become a very important part of this big diverse and interesting record that I co-produced with the great Jim ‘Moose’ Brown. I dare you not to feel something when you listen to this song.”
The Barfly Sessions marks Newfield’s second solo studio album, after 2008’s What Am I Waiting For.
We asked Newfield about the cowgirl behind the blues.
The Early Days: Horse-Happy
It’s been a big life so far, with lots of beaches, athletics, and waterskiing, but the ranching and farming aspect of my upbringing has always made a huge impact on me, my work ethic, quality of life. I grew up on a big quarter horse operation in Northern California. We had a breeding and training facility. We had almost everything from racehorses to cutting and working cow horses to Western pleasure and halter horses. I broke colts for my parents since I was about 12 I have a few broken bones to prove it). I also got into rodeo early on too. I ran barrels, poles, tied goats (yes, it’s a thing), and calf-roped. I was a 4-H girl like my two sisters before me from 9 to 17 years of age. I was a foreman on a huge sheep ranch at 16 years old to make extra money. My family ran a small herd of black baldy cattle and I could often be found at ropings, rodeos, and AQHA horse shows most of my off time till I moved to Nashville to sing full time. I was driving a one-ton dully with a 30-foot fifth-wheel horse trailer before I got my license. We had to put phone books and pillows behind my back and under my butt so I could reach the pedals. I’m more comfy on a horse than on my own two feet.
The Look: Cowgirl Chic
A big part of what I continue to represent is the fashion part of things: a well-made hat, a good-fitting pair of jeans, the fabrics and colors that represent that Western lifestyle. They have always been a part of both my stage and offstage attire. The jewelry, the turquoise, the sterling silver, the leather belts and buckles, the boots — it’s all part of who I am.
The Lifestyle: Country-Comfy
I am currently looking for some land outside of Nashville to build our homestead — the kind of place where the natural elements are all used. Wood, rock, water, and lots of natural light. A place with a huge comfy kitchen and a mudroom for the boots and outdoor wear, a front-door-open kind of place where we entertain friends and family. We cook, pick guitars, swim in the pool, drink something delicious, and everyone is welcome. Cowboys and hippies alike — there is no room for judgment in this place. That’s how I grew up, and that’s what I’m working toward now. I am comfortable almost everywhere.
The Balance: Full-Circle
I traded that homestead for something closer into the city so touring and co-writes would be easier and I could focus on music. Now, I’m all about the balance. Music and touring will always be in my blood, but when I come off the road, I want to be able to step away from business and step on to a horse ... build big bonfires and wrap up in Navajo blankets. I love the outdoors, raising animals, and getting my hands in the dirt.