By Ashley Lucas
After three years of playing together, Roanoke-based country band, The Low Low Chariot are about to release their much anticipated full LP, titled “Believer”, an album that lead singer, JD Sutphin, said has been years in the making. Sutphin, who was previously in rock band Madrone, said the switch to playing country music was an easy transition. “I found a stash of my grandpa’s songs that he had never recorded. I learned the songs, and it completely changed my life”. Sutphin’s grandfather was a touring country musician and it seems he may be a follower of those footsteps, a believer in those beliefs.
That’s the power of music. At certain points in life, a certain genre of music may define your tastes, but as life changes and evolves, so does the music we grow to love. And it seems like the evolution from rock to country has been a valuable deviation for the former rocker. “Chariot has been all about writing songs, less about business, and we’ve had more success in three months than I had in three years with Madrone.” The process of songwriting also changed. “Writing rock songs was always about cathartically getting over something. Country can be happy. Country can tell a story.” Sutphin, like country-great Dwight Yoakam, wrote most of the album while driving in the car; “I’d start with a vocal idea, sing the guitar melody, and go back later and try to figure out what I wanted to say”.
The band, which consists of Sutphin, Blaine Davis and Joshua Mason, chose to record their upcoming album at Omni Studios in Nashville, TN. Chosen because of the good vibes and great albums born out of it, the band was able to record most of the ten tracks in one take. Those tracks sound like what you’ve come to expect from the Low Low Chariot: a solid variety of mid-tempo songs that fall somewhere between Old Dominion and Kings of Leon.
There’s a little something for everyone on this album. For those who like a strong pop country punch, there’s “This Whiskey”, which, at a little over three minutes, feels ready for big time radio play. For those who want to take a little trip back in time, there’s “Glass Coke Bottle”, a song which Sutphin wrote about visiting his grandmother. Surely all Chariot fans will love a live version of the anthemic “Swingin’”, and the album opener, “Carolina Ocean”, with its Eagles-esque harmonic intro, is a great stage setter for the rest of the album.
“Believer” is a well-produced, well-written freshman album. If these songs tell a story, it’s a story of musical evolution, of childhood memories, of sadness, and of optimism. There’s a good amount of vulnerability in the lyrics, which makes you want to listen, not just hear. It’s telling that Sutphin’s favorite song on the album, “Make Me Feel Something” because this album will definitely make YOU feel something.
The Harvester will host Low Low Chariot on November 10th for their album release show. Local singer/songwriter Corey Hunley will be the opening act. There will be VIP tickets available, which will get fans an autographed physical copy of “Believer”, stickers, Low Low Chariot t-shirt, and a private meet n’ greet with pre-show beverage.