If all goes according to plan, by next spring Nashville songwriter Nick Wayne will have released an entire album of songs in the same manner that one might make coffee: drip by drip. In fact, the Tennessee native is releasing his material under two distinct themes, Coffee Black and Bourbon Neat. The former is a collection of songs made for and often written during the morning hours, while the latter is geared toward the evening wind-down.
It’s not just a promotional exercise, however. The delineation represents the duality of Wayne’s music, his interests, and his persona as an artist.
“Being in Nashville, there’s a big ‘what are you’ question where you have to explain your music. Your answer as the artist is always so obnoxious because you can’t really say what it is. You just have to listen to it, you know?” Wayne says. “I knew I wanted to release a project called Coffee Black and Bourbon Neat, because it’s the two sides of me. One is very pure and one very commercial, but it’s still the same.”
The latest entry in the series is “‘Til the Wine’s All Gone,” a Bourbon Neat song premiering today that Wayne is officially releasing on Friday. Written with songwriter Justin Ebach four years ago, the track, with its Seventies smooth-rock vibe, is a celebration of Wayne’s girlfriend and their late-night, wine-finishing courtship.
“I like to create just music, not figure out, ‘Will this get played?'” Wayne says. “I [approached] writing it that way, and Ebach is a commercial writer, so it’s fun to be that yin and yang on a song like this.”
Wayne is well aware that as an independent artist he has to work harder to get his music heard and find fresh ways to release his songs. Thus Coffee Black and Bourbon Neat was born. “It’s hard to make records, play shows, and write songs, especially when it’s financially all on my plate too,” he says. “When you’re a creator you have to figure out how to break as an independent artist. We have platforms to do that, with DSPs and radio like SiriusXM, who are there and supporting. But you still have to come up with ways that make you happy and satisfied.”
Country music has always done that for Wayne, and he’s excited that the genre is returning to its true-life storytelling roots. “In country, you knew [the artist’s] life, their life was in their songs, and that’s switched a little bit. But it’s starting to get back into the artistry,” he says. Still, at its core, all music exists as an escape, Wayne believes.
“At the end of the day, music is still just disco. People use it to be relieved and be inspired,” says Wayne, who for the record makes his coffee with a Chemex pour-over carafe and favors Buffalo Trace bourbon. “I hope that me being an artist and being myself can inspire other people to be confident in themselves.”