Powerhouse singer/songwriter Mark Erelli has unveiled brand new single "Her Town Now," a deceptively lighthearted tune about processing the unraveling of a relationship. Reminiscent of Petty in style and Prine in straightforwardness, "Her Town Now" was written with Chuck Prophet after a chance meeting in the Oregon woods during a songwriting workshop. "I really loved what [Prophet] did and was looking to force myself to collaborate," Erelli told Billboard in the song's premiere. "Chuck’s more of a rock 'n' roller than I've been in the past. I thought he might be able to help me make something out of this chorus I had for ['Her Town Now']." Prophet also brought in his frequent collaborator, poet Kurt "Klipschutz" Lipschutz, to help out and craft Erelli's goal "to explore the concept of something that once belonged to two people and now very clearly belongs to just one of them" after a romantic breakup. "Chuck helped me get in touch with that more stripped-down rock 'n' roll vibe -- 'Let's not wait too long 'til we get to the chorus,' that type of thing," Erelli explained. "For a long time I had been trying to get at the essence of what I connected with and what I loved in Tom Petty songs. I think of it as the Tao of Tom Petty -- simplicity beyond simplicity in the best rock songs, where everything is both carefully constructed but doesn't sound overthought."
LISTEN TO "HER TOWN NOW"
Erelli also penned "By Degrees," which has been nominated for song of the year at this year's Americana Music Association Honors & Awards. "Singer-songwriter and folk musician Mark Erelli has produced a pair of albums for Lori McKenna, accompanied musicians including Josh Ritter and Paula Cole on guitar, appeared on Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s 2007 Soul2Soul Tour, and released 11 albums as a solo artist," remarked Rolling Stone Country. "But in 'By Degrees,' a song Rosanne Cash calls 'the most compassionate, vivid and non-preaching anti-gun violence song I’ve ever heard,' Erelli shines an essential and sobering light on a topic that remains among the most heavily debated in the country. With a lyrical hook that suggests 'you can learn to live with anything when it happens by degrees,' Erelli crafts a modern protest song that finds its power in poignant observation, perhaps the most chilling of which is the image of “little hands on little shoulders, children in a line… led away from school as the shots rang out inside.” "By Degrees" features Cash, Sheryl Crow, Lori McKenna, Anaïs Mitchell, and Josh Ritter. The profits for "By Degrees" were and continue to be donated to Giffords: The Courage to Fight Gun Violence, the organization founded by former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
That same poignancy and enthusiasm reverberate through every line in "Her Town Now"; Erelli and his band gleefully brought the song to life in a Nashville studio in one take, the memory of which he compares to watching kids in a candy store. But don’t be fooled by the lightheartedness of “Her Town Now.” “The song sounds catchy and upbeat, unless you have lived it—I have,” he reveals. And it’s true, “Her Town Now” bears the mark of the greats, those masters of songcraft who draw you in, break your heart, and make you beg for more. “The days are cold, the nights are long, the bed’s still here, but her pillow’s gone,” he sings, as he recounts the demise of a relationship and feeling like a displaced stranger in a place that was once so familiar.
This song marks a step forward for Erelli—albeit in a different direction. His previous work has been in the realm of acoustic-focused songs about love and relationships. “Her Town Now” is a rock-tinged examination of a state of affairs, unflinching in its perspective, and straightforward in its delivery, as Erelli finds himself reflecting on where he’s been, and looking forward to what’s next.