Wade Bowen Reveals Something Between the Secret and the Truth

by Preshias Harris / 47 days ago / Comments
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Texas troubadour takes hands-on control of new album

If you could look up a definition of Traditional Country in a dictionary, there’d be a picture of Wade Bowen. Or if not, there should be. If you need any proof, give a listen to Wade’s new album Somewhere Between the Secret and the Truth, out now from Thirty Tigers/The Orchard.

The loyal listeners to ‘red dirt’ radio in Texas and Oklahoma have been drawn to Wade’s music for years and the dozens of radio hits he has racked up there. With six studio albums and almost 225 million streams, he has steadily built an army of traditional country fans beyond those state lines, carried along on a punishing tour schedule.

With a lesser artist, the love and respect for traditional country could result in not much more than a parody of old ‘90s-style songs or a tribute to a bygone era. Wade doesn’t fall into that trap.  You can feel the undeniable influence of that era, but every track on Between the Secret and the Truth is pure twenty-first century Bowen.

Between the Secret and the Truth brings us twelve new tracks, co-written by Wade alongside writers such as Eric Paslay, Lori McKenna, Randy Montana, Heather Morgan and more. 

I had the rare opportunity to sit down, one on one, with Randy just before he took the stage for his pop-up album release show, August 15 at Analog in Nashville’s Hutton Hotel, where he played all twelve songs from the album with a full band.  He spoke honestly about how the worldwide pandemic and the resulting shutdown of live entertainment affected him. He said it was ‘a punch in the gut” when it all shut down. 

“I didn’t really know how to handle that creatively at all,” he admitted.  “I went into a writer’s drought. I felt I couldn’t write a song because I didn’t know what to say or how to say it or why.  I couldn’t make sense of it all.  Then I came out of that and I started writing a lot. I think that shutdown helped me to just stop and focus on what matters and I came out on the other side with a brand new sense of self and a brand new sense of my career and what I wanted to do and what’s important in my life.  I think you can hear that in my new stuff, specially with this new record.”

There are songs of pain and dealing with the loss of love on the new project. One of the most evocative is “Burnin’ Both Ends of the Bar,” yearning at the sight of a former love “sitting in that corner booth where I used to call her baby.”

But Wade doesn’t wallow there too long, immediately following it with the raucous, uptempo “Honky-Tonk Roll” putting him back in a party mood with a wry nod back at the previous track with the opening lines:

I got a jackhammer in my head

I got my boots on in my bed

Been burnin’ both ends of the bar

Wade shows why he’s sometimes described as a Texas Troubadour with “The Secret to This Town” and his honest observations of small-town life made up of Friday night football, the mechanic shop down on Main and the girl next door who used to daydream about the day she’d leave, but “now she’s glad as hell she never did.” 

His songs almost always feel like poetry set to music with every line being there for a reason and not just a rhyme. Case in point: “A Beautiful World,” featuring the voice of the song’s co-writer Lori McKenna. It’s a gentle ballad that reminds us that, despite our differences, “If we could all get together just once in a while and find the good that’s even in the bad and raise a glass,” we could see the beautiful world.

He is joined by Vince Gill (one of his all-time heroes) on “A Guitar, A Singer and a Song.” The ‘90s superstar contributes both harmony vocals and acoustic guitar, as well taking lead for a verse. The lyrics (again co-written with Lori McKenna) sound like a heartfelt explanation, simply laid out, as to why Wade chose the life that he lives.  He confesses: “You think you’re singing the song but the song’s singing you.”

Wade talked about writing songs during the age of Covid.  “At first, it was a little weird being on a screen with somebody that you can’t really hear that well and you kind of fumble your way through it, but once I got used to it, I fell in love with it,” he told me. “Like with my friend Lori McKenna who lives in Boston and I live in Texas. It was the perfect way for us.  We’d written together before, but we hadn’t written a bunch because getting our schedules together is a nightmare. So being able to hop on a Zoom and talk about our kids and our friendship and then also happen to write a song.“

Lori and Wade collaborated on what became the album’s title track. He said that he actually had the record finished – or thought he had. Then there was “Somewhere Between the Secret and the Truth.” 

“I knew I had to get that song tracked and I knew I had to finish it out,” he recalled.  “I put everything back together like a month later, and I had to bring everybody back in just to record one more song.  I’m so glad I did. I think it’s a huge track; it’s one of my favorites that I’ve ever written. I think it’s a huge part of this record and I’m glad it’s the title.”

He added, “It really sums up not only this record, but ‘Somewhere Between the Secret and the Truth’ sums up country music, it sums up our lives.  We’re all constantly searching for what we want to reveal to people and what we don’t. When we’re going to tell people the truth and when we’re not. I think we’re all stuck somewhere in between there, for better or for worse.”

Play/download/stream Somewhere Between the Secret and the Truth from all leading digital services here. Tour info, music, merch and more here where you can also order 'bundles' that include CD, T-shirt and translucent blue vinyl LP. (@wadebowen)

 

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Wade Bowen Tour Dates

10/07/2022 : Johnny's Steaks & Bar-Be-Que: Salado, TX
10/09/2022 : Stars Over Texas Music Fest: Ennis, TX
10/14/2022 : Barge 295: Seabrook, TX
10/15/2022 : Troubadour Festival: Celina, TX
10/21/2022 : Red River Station BBQ: Saint Jo, TX
10/22/2022 : The Tailgate: Midland, TX
11/03/2022 : Varsity Theatre: Baton Rouge, LA
11/05/2022 : Ford Park Beaumont Tx: Beaumont, TX
11/11/2022 : John T. Floore Country Store: Helotes, TX
11/12/2022 : 2nd Annual CUTX Fall Festival: Gilmer, TX
11/18/2022 : Riverwind Casino: Norman, OK
11/23/2022 : Gruene Hall: New Braunfels, TX
12/08/2022 : Haute Spot: Cedar Park, TX

About Preshias Harris

Preshias Harris Journalist

Preshias Harris is a music journalist who has interviewed everyone from Alabama to ZZ Top for articles and stories published in numerous music magazines. She is the author of longest-running monthly country music column in America and authored The College of Songology™ 101: The Singer/Songwriter’s ‘Need To Know’ Reference Handbook. As a music career development consultant with special emphasis on emerging and aspiring artists and songwriters, she focuses on ‘chasing the dream’ while understanding the realities of the music industry. She maintains a writers’ room on Music Row – named The Sangtuary – for her clients and their co-writers. She is a member of ASCAP (as a publisher), BMI, The Country Music Association (CMA), The Recording Academy, The National Association of Talent Directors (NATD) and a life member of Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI).

You can find out more about Preshias at https://www.collegeofsongology.com and find her blog at www.nashvillemusicline.com