When Ray Fulcher moved to Nashville in 2014, he only knew one guy, but within three days of landing in town, that guy introduced the Georgia songwriter to another budding writer — Luke Combs. At the risk of overdramatizing the encounter, it was a meeting that would change both of their lives and, arguably, launch a new wave of Nineties traditionalism in country music.
“We kept in touch and started a friendship. We were turning into good buddies and then we said, ‘Hey, let’s try to write some songs,'” says Fulcher, who ended up co-writing eight of the tracks on Combs’ 2017 Double Platinum debut This One’s for You, including the Number One “When It Rains It Pours.” He also contributed three songs to Combs’ EP The Prequel — one of them the tearjerking new single “Even Though I’m Leaving.”
Bonding over a shared admiration for Eric Church, the pair met every Tuesday for more than a year and muddled their way through those early songwriting sessions. By Fulcher’s own admission, they had no clue what they were doing.
“In no way did we think we had it figured out or that we were going to change the game,” Fulcher says. “We were blind to what we were ‘supposed’ to be writing or how it was ‘supposed’ to work. So we said let’s be honest about the songs we’re writing, and let them represent us as people and then see where the chips fall. Luckily, the country music audience was starved for an artist like Luke.”
Ironically, one of Nashville’s fastest rising songwriters didn’t move here with that goal in mind. While he’s grateful for the recognition, he’s committed to being his own artist. In May he released the EP Somebody Like Me, which has accumulated more than 13 million streams this summer, and last week dropped the new song “Down on My Window.”
Written with Jonathan Singleton and Wyatt Durrette, the uptempo breakup song is Fulcher’s attempt to write a leaving tune for a contemporary audience.
“But not a breakup as in, ‘Oh, this is sad.’ It’s almost like, ‘Man, I finally feel that freedom and I’m OK. My story is done here, it’s time for the next chapter,'” says Fulcher, who looked to George Strait for inspiration in crafting the song’s vibe.
“One song I always go to is ‘The Cowboy Rides Away.’ I love how the words and lyrics illustrate this picture of a guy going, ‘Alright, it’s time to get up out of here.’ You can almost see him riding off in the sunset,” he says. “My vision for this song was to find a more modern way to tell that story.”
Following a tour with Luke Combs and fall dates with Chris Janson, Fulcher is embarking on his own headlining run, the Down on My Window Tour. While it’s tempting to write more hits for other artists and cash those royalty checks, he says he won’t waver when it comes to carving out his lane.
“Even with the songwriting success with Luke, I never forgot the reason I came here and why I want to be an artist,” Fulcher says. “It would be easy to say, ‘Ah, man, be a songwriter, it’s a great career.’ But that’s not the thing that was keeping me up at night before I moved to town.”
Here’s Ray Fulcher’s upcoming tour dates:
September 5 — Dahlonega, GA @ UNG Promenade
September 6 — Tallahassee, FL @ College Town Parking Lot
September 7 — Rome, GA @ Brewhouse Music & Grill
September 12 — Athens, GA @ 40 Watt Club
September 13 — Milledgeville, GA @ The Tavern
September 14 — Tifton, GA @ Terminal South
September 20 — Columbus, OH @ The Bluestone
September 21 — Grand Rapids, MI @ The Stache
September 26 — Little Rock, AR @ Rev Room
September 27 — Birmingham, AL @ Zydeco
September 28— Savannah, GA @ Saddle Bags
October 3 — Fayetteville, AR @ George’s Majestic Lounge
October 4 — Omaha, NE @ Beer Can Alley Omaha
October 5 — Des Moines, IA @ Beer Can Alley Iowa
October 10 — Indianapolis, IN @ Vogue Theatre
October 12 — Greensboro, NC @ Arizona Pete’s
October 17 — Aiken, SC @ Amp the Alley
October 18 — Atlanta, GA @ Smith’s Olde Bar
October 19 — Macon, GA @ The Crazy Bull
October 23 — New York, NY @ Gramercy Theatre
October 24 — Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club w/ Josh Abbott Band
November 7— Depew, NY @- The Cove
November 8— Jordan, NY @ Kegs Canal Side Event Center
November 11 — Rochester, NY @ Anthology
November 15 — Martin, TN @ Slide & Ride Saloon