Steel Magnolia talks writing songs and crafting their debut album
By Patrick Luce Jan 18, 2011, 23:32 GMT
Country duo Steel Magnoilia’s self-titled debut has arrived and features a blend of pop, rock and traditional country. The release includes the hit singles “Keep On Lovin’ You,” “Just By Being You (Halo and Wings),” and “Last Night Again.”
Steel Magnolia consists of Joshua Scott Jones and Meghan Linsey, and broke big by winning the second season of CMT's "Can You Duet" music competition series. The duo was signed to Big Machine Records and began work on their debut about a year ago.
Their first single “Keep On Lovin' You” gave the duo success on the Billboard charts, and the two singers kept busy as part of Brad Paisley's 2010 summer tour. They also picked up nine music award nominations - including Vocal Duo of the Year at the CMA Awards.
M&C was lucky enough to get Steel Magnolia to take a few minutes from their busy schedule to answer some questions via e-mail about how they came to be, crafting their debut album, and what fans can expect from the duo in 2011.
M&C: How did Steel Magnolia come to be, and when did you know that you had something special in the blending of your voices, musical styles and songwriting?
Josh: I walked into Miss Kelli’s, a karaoke bar in Printer’s Alley in Nashville and heard Meghan.
Meghan: I was working there and was tired of meeting musicians. Josh was working in radio at the time and little did I know, he was also a musician.
Josh: When I heard Meghan’s voice I thought to myself, “this is a hard town if that girl doesn’t have a record deal”. We were together for about a year and then we started singing together.
M&C: How did you come up with the name for your duo?
Meghan: We were headed to play a gig one night in Nashville and needed a name. I suggested Steel Magnolia and the rest is history.
M&C: What was the recording process of your first album/videos like and how did it compare to the way you thought it would be when you dreamed of making it to this stage in your musical careers?
Meghan: We got the opportunity to work with famed producer Dan Huff for our debut album. He was great to work with and we think we made a great record.
The first half of the album is more current, modern day country and the back half begins to get more traditional. It’s cool because it brings it around full circle.
M&C: How has life changed for you since your first single hit the radio and public?
Meghan: The biggest change is that we are constantly busy. We hardly get to sleep in our own bed and even when we are in Nashville, there’s always something we have to be doing – press, media, recording, writing. So that’s been the biggest change since winning Can You Duet.
M&C: Many of the songs seem to have an upbeat quality and seem like a fresher take on the traditional country genre. Were you ever concerned the album would seem too pop/rock to fit into country music? Do you feel there is still a clear line between the country genre and rock genre?
Josh: In some ways, the lines between country and rock seem to be blurring but then you’ve also got some new artists doing really well these days that sound more traditional.
Easton Corbin is an example of that. I think what fans want to hear is good music and it doesn’t really matter if that is traditional country or more modern country as long as it is good music and fun.
That’s why it worked well for us to be on the same stage with Easton Corbin all summer long on Brad Paisley’s H2O Tour and fans were really receptive to both us, and Easton.
M&C: You are both songwriters and were active in writing this album. When crafting the album, did you work together on the songs or write separately?
Meghan: We had a hand in seven of the 12 songs on the album and are really proud of that. Josh wrote track 12, “Glass Houses,” but otherwise we co-wrote all of the songs.
M&C: What went into the deciding who would sing which parts or did you craft a song for someone’s particular singing ability or sound?
Meghan: As you write a song, you kinda just fall into the roles and know who is singing what parts.
M&C: How are your songwriting and musical styles different? For instance, “Glass Houses” has a very different sound and style than say “Ooh La La.”
Meghan: We’ve got different influences and listened to different artists growing up. That may be one reason it works so well. We’ve blended those influences and also appreciate a lot of the same acts these days.
Josh: The Beatles, Tom Petty, Springsteen – all the classics mixed in with our classic country roots like Waylon to Willie to Patsy Cline.
Those are acts that people will always enjoy listening to. We hope the same is true of our music and that people are still listening to our cd years from now.
M&C: Was there ever a discussion about not including a slower song such as “Glass Houses” due to the different sound? Or a feeling where you had to include two or three fast songs, a ballad or two to complete the album’s sound and marketability?
Josh: We were kinda surprised when “Glass Houses” made the album, but it’s a great way to finish the record and tie everything together.
We really didn’t approach the album thinking about marketability but wanted to put the best collection of songs together that we possibly could. We think we did that and hope the fans enjoy it.
M&C: The album’s first two singles “Keep on Lovin’ You” and “Just By Being You” do an excellent job displaying your chemistry, talent and the album’s sound. Was there any debate about these being the first two songs released?
Meghan: I think any time an artist puts together an album, especially their first one, there are going to be debates about which songs should be the first singles. We were fortunate to have the problem of having a number of songs we thought were worthy of being singles.
Having “Keep On Lovin You” go Top-5 on the charts was amazing – there are artists who release multiple singles and never have a Top-5 song so we feel really fortunate.
Josh: Our current single, “Last Night Again” is a great song and we think there are other songs on the album that could be singles and go really deep on the charts. We couldn’t ask to be in a better place.
M&C: What can fans expect out of Steel Magnolia in 2011 and beyond?
Both: A lot!
Josh: We’re doing some dates with Blake Shelton and playing some really cool events like Stage Coach in California one week after Coachella. There’s a lot of press and media around the album release and will be more to come.
So expect to see lots of us and we hope to see lots of our fans this year.
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