The Choctaw, Mojave Native son goes all in on a country song about gambling on a relationship.
You might not know Austin Merrill’s name yet, but Shenandoah does: The band recorded Merrill’s song “Boots on Broadway” for its new album, Every Road.
Now we’re pleased to premiere the video for Merrill’s self-penned song “All In.” “All In” follows the summer release of Merrill’s single “One More Mile.”
The new music shows Merrill continuing to prove himself a natural singer-songwriter, building on the momentum of his debut EP, Whiskey & Water, released last spring and also written entirely by Merrill.
Merrill’s chops as a musician were already well-established. The native Oregonian first went to Nashville as an award-winning upright bassist and accomplished sax player. In the “All In” video, you’ll see him playing guitar.
He grew up in Oregon in a family that loved country music; his own music today reflects childhood influences including Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, and Shenandoah. As summed up by American Songwriter: “It’s evident not only does [Merrill’s] heart lie with country music of the ’90s and ’00s, but he has the talent to seamlessly blend the traditional stylings he grew up on with the modern sound country listeners are drawn to today.”
Music’s not Merrill’s only calling: After graduating from Vanderbilt University, he followed another lifelong calling and joined the Army, finishing his service this fall as a lieutenant in the Tennessee Army National Guard.
We talked with Merrill on the occasion of the debut of his new video for “All In.”
In case you’re not familiar …
I’m a country music artist from Bend, Oregon, now living in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m a songwriter, an Army vet, and a proud Native son. I’m an Indian that grew up on cowboy music, and now I sing it for a living. (It’s not as ironic as it sounds. Or maybe it is.) I just released my latest single, “All In,” with Foundry Records, and I believe it’s some of my best work to date.
Planning and shooting the “All In” video
We knew from the get-go that we had to incorporate the poker references from the song lyrics in the video somehow, and we ultimately decided to just go “all in” and film a game of poker between me and the leading lady. She had no idea how to play, so I had to teach her how to play Texas hold ’em on the fly so that it would look realistic for the camera. She got the hang of it by the end, but she won’t be taking anybody’s money any time soon. I’ve done most of my real poker playing out west, but we filmed the whole video in Nashville, which is where I wrote the song earlier this year.
On Shenandoah cutting his song “Boots on Broadway” for their new album, Every Road
Shenandoah has always been one of my favorite bands, and to hear them singing something I wrote is very surreal. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it, and I’m just so grateful to have gotten to know them because of this whole process. Marty Raybon, Shenandoah’s lead singer, and I still text back and forth. Those guys have acquired a lot of wisdom throughout their time and success in the music industry, and I learn from them every time we talk.
Wrapping up 2020 and looking forward to 2021
I recently stepped back into the studio to record some new music, and I’ve always got two or three songs that I’m working on. As this year winds down, all I can say is I’m looking forward to playing live shows again! Music is such an integral part of life, and I can’t wait to connect directly with the fans again. 2021 is shaping up to be a massive year with everything my team has planned, and I just feel so blessed to get to make music for a living.
Photography: Images courtesy Luis Gonzalez, Austin Merrill