Nashville singer-songwriter Mitchell Tenpenny released his debut album today. Titled Black Crow, the LP draws on the country, rock and R&B the 25-year-old grew up listening to — he cites artists as diverse as Vince Gill, John Mayer and Michael Jackson as influences.
One of the standout songs, however, is steeped not in rock or soul but in bluegrass. And for good reason: “Canes Creek” features the tour de force string band the SteelDrivers. Tenpenny says he was always a fan of the group, which recently enlisted Jason Isbell to produce two songs on their new album.
“I have so much respect for every musician in that band and I love their songwriting as well,” says Tenpenny. “When I heard they were going to play on [‘Canes Creek’] I was nervous honestly, because I think they are so amazing. I’m not worthy, but I am grateful.”
Written after an idyllic day on the water with a songwriter friend, “Canes Creek” describes the euphoria of finding the perfect fishing spot and sharing it with someone special. In the song, it’s a girl, but it could just as easily be a fishing buddy with whom you crack open that cold beer. “Toss our poles to the side, raise our cans real high/thank God that we’re here,” sings Tenpenny, before offering a casual “cheers.”
Bolstered by the SteelDrivers’ expert picking, the tune is elevated well past a simple fishin’ n’ drinkin’ song. Still, with its loose feel, it calls to mind one of country’s favorite settings: the back porch, where beers and fishing stories are swapped into the night.
Tenpenny will host an album release show tonight in Nashville, while the SteelDrivers kick off their own tour May 16th in Greeneville, Tennessee.