Kim Richey Returns From London With Thorn in My Heart

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Kim Richey’s elegant Thorn in My Heart aches and breaks with singular vulnerability. The current Nashville resident, who has written hits for Trisha Yearwood, Radney Foster and several others, spoke with CMT Edge about her upcoming album (arriving April 16), living in London the past few years and the pros and cons in the Facebook world.

“Facebook is a really great way to keep in touch with people and to let them know about touring and a new record,” Richey says. “It can take up a lot of time — maybe too much time — and you can get sucked up into the social media vortex, but I think it’s a great tool if you don’t let it take over.”

CMT Edge: Did you write all these songs specifically for the new album?

Richey: Yeah, a lot of the songs are new — maybe 75 percent. The rest are from my old catalog. I went through and found a few that had never been recorded before. Sometimes you just forget about songs, or they get left behind for one reason or another. These are ones I always liked but never had a chance to record. They fit perfectly on this record.

How many unrecorded songs would you estimate you have lying around?

Oh, loads, just loads. I got my catalogs back from three different publishing companies. I have tons of songs because I write all the time. I don’t write for specific albums like some people do. I just write constantly. Then when it comes time to make an album, I pick from what I have.

Tell the story behind writing the title track.

I wrote that one with Neilson Hubbard. Whenever Neilson and I get together to write, we always like to have a chat first about what’s going on in our lives and politics. Neilson is the producer of the record and is also in charge of touring. We were sitting around talking about the people in our lives — they might be family members or friends or relationships — just people that you never stop loving. But sometimes it’s harder than other times to look after them and take care of them.

Is there a common lyrical theme?

Not on purpose, but there’s a bit of restlessness. You could pin that. This record has a restless nature.

Like most of your music, these songs are hard to categorize. Good or bad?

I guess I kind of agree. I think a lot of music is like that, really. You can’t put music that I really like into one bag. I don’t listen to one kind of music, so I’m not influenced by only one kind of music. As far as it being good or bad, I think it’s good for the music, but I’m not sure how good it is for people who have to write about it or radio stations that want to play it. I do think it’s a good thing for the music.

How does living in Nashville shape you as an artist?

Well, I just moved back here last June. I lived for three years in London. I think living in Nashville when I first got here helped me a lot with my songwriting because there’s a lot of inspiration here, going to hear people at writer’s nights.

What was living in London like?

I was going back and forth a whole lot from London to Nashville. At one point, I was going to be touring and gone a long time and had just sold my house, and a publishing company there had offered me a spot. I just jumped and put everything here in storage and went over there.

I do miss it a lot. The only thing I don’t miss is that everything is just really hard. When you live in a big city, you don’t just jump into your car and go to the store. Everything takes a long time. Things I miss from over there are my friends and all the stuff that’s going on. Over there, you feel more a part of the world because people from all over the world have come to live in London. You just feel right in the middle of it, which is pretty great.

Have you ever played Union Chapel in London?

No! I know that’s a fantastic place though. My friend Boo Hewerdine has played there. I’ll be [in London] through all of May, and I’ll make sure and check it out. I’d love to play there sometime.

Where do you do your best writing?

Not on the road so much. That’s really difficult for me because you’re pulled in so many directions trying to keep stuff together. I can get ideas on the road, though, little snippets that I can record and use for when I’m in a quieter time. I like to write mostly at home when I’m not touring. I really love writing with other people. It’s a good discipline thing for me to write with other people because I get distracted by a million different things if I’m at home on my own. If I go and sit down with someone, I’m really focused on writing.

Tell the story behind writing “Nobody Wins” with Radney Foster.

Oh, that’s so funny! Some songs just stick in your mind. … Radney came over to my house. I was living in the first place I had in Nashville, and I remember we were sitting on the couch, and I can see just how we were sitting there. We were talking about things that were going on for both of us right then. A lot of songs just kind of happen that way, and Radney and I had been friends for a while, so we were talking about all this stuff. It was during his first marriage, and then the song just came out from there. Some of my favorite and best songs are things that come from real things that are going on at the time.

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