Adam Hood Mixes Storytelling, Daydreams on Welcome to the Big World

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Adam Hood‘s Welcome to the Big World energizes earthy storytelling (“Don’t That Sound Like Love”) with ethereal daydreams (the title track). CMT Edge spoke with Hood about songwriting, diversifying his music and his buoyant new country collection.

“Half are newer tunes and half are songs that didn’t make it on the last couple albums,” the Northport, Alabama, resident says. “They didn’t make it before maybe because the demos didn’t work or I wasn’t comfortable with a verse. So I redid some things and put them on this record.”

CMT Edge: Tell the story behind writing “Don’t That Sound Like Love.”

Hood: I guess it’s one of those everyday comical things that married people deal with. I was trying to make light of that instead of being like, “Oh, my gosh. My husband’s such a pain in the neck” or “My wife’s always on my butt.” These are the kinds of things everybody deals with and stuff we all go through. It’s a little lighthearted.

Did a common lyrical theme emerge when you put the songs together?

Actually, no. This is probably the first record I’ve made that hasn’t had some sort of common denominator. The Different Groove album (2007) was more of a roots record where my more traditional country, blues, honky-tonk songs were. I don’t want to say I deliberately decided not to have a common denominator, but I just wanted to compile a bunch of songs I really loved and make a more diverse record. I think it gives every song a chance to be its own good song.

Will diversity be a new direction?

I try to make it that way all the time, to be honest. At the same time, I get on kicks. I guess every writer does. You get to a point where you’re like, “Man, this is my style right now. This is what I want to do right now. This is the platform.” Whether it’s honky-tonk or three-piece blues or hardcore country, you get in those phases. I think I’ve been in those phases, and I don’t want to get stuck in one place the whole time. It’s not looking for a new direction as much as trying not to stay in the same old direction.

Describe how the title track came to you.

The idea for “Welcome to the Big World” came from my daughter turning 16 years old. I had the first couple of lines written, and I took it to Mando Saenz and we finished it up. After we recorded it, I realized that even thought I’d written it for a 16-year-old, it really relates to me as much as anything else.

Even pushing 40, I still have a lot of growing up to do. It’s still a big world, and I have to get out there and suck it up and say, “Hey, man, this is par for the course. You just have to roll up your sleeves and put a smile on your face and make the best of the work that has to be done.”

Describe writing with Mando.

Man, almost every song that we’ve written are the jewels on my records like the song called “Moving Mountains” that we wrote on The Shape of Things (2011). The cool thing about writing with Mando is that I’ve never taken him anything that suits Mando. He does it really well with Stoney [LaRue], too. If you listen to Mando’s music, you hear what he is, but you go listen to songs he’s written with other people, it’s completely different. I really admire that. He’s better at it than I am, I guarantee.

Your bio says you’re “free from your contract” with the publisher Carnival Music in Nashville. Did you not have a good experience?

Actually, it was a good experience. It was just one of those things where it was time to get out. I have a great relationship with Frank [Liddell, Carnival’s president] and I still write with [Carnival writer] Brent Cobb. I still send them songs, but I don’t live in Nashville. It’s really tough to write for a publisher in Nashville and not be 100 percent of the social structure of Nashville. I could tell it was starting to hinder me. I wasn’t getting enough done, and I just didn’t want to absorb any more money.

Guy Clark has always said he needs to be in Nashville for that social structure as a writer.

Exactly. The thing is, with my daughter being in high school, I don’t want to move her again. She deserves to have a complete freshman-to-senior high school experience with the same friends. Now, once she’s out of high school, there’s no telling what we’ll do, but it’s a sacrifice we’re proud to do for now. I hope that my career will benefit from it.

Who did you write “The Countriest” with?

I wrote that with Charlie Worsham. We were supposed to write, and I had probably half the chorus together. I wanted it to be a Conway Twitty/Loretta Lynn honky-tonk duet thing because I thought it was an appropriate title for two people to say. If it was just me saying, “Ain’t I the countriest,” that’d be a really pompous thing to do, even though a lot of people brag about their country-ness in country music these days. The idea came from a poke on the whole pickup truck country thing.

Sunny Sweeney plays the Loretta part great.

I’ve known Sunny for years and have been looking for an opportunity like this. We’ve written a couple of times together, but it was before life changed for Sunny. She was the first person I thought of because she’s probably the countriest person I know!

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