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Song You Need to Know: Kyle Daniel, ‘Born to Lose’

Kentucky songwriter shines harsh light on hard living in new loser’s anthem

Kyle Daniel

Kentucky songwriter Kyle Daniel's "Born to Lose" is a loser's anthem nestled in the sweet spot between Southern rock and country.

Sean Marshall

Kentucky songwriter Kyle Daniel shines a sympathetic light on the cycle of addiction in his new song “Born to Lose,” a personal track inspired by people he knew in his Bowling Green hometown.

“We live in a time in which addiction has somehow impacted all of our lives,” says Daniel of the song, off his upcoming EP What’s There to Say?, out March 15th. “I felt the need to discuss the hardships of this crisis, without painting it in a negative light, coming from a place or understanding and acceptance.”

Propelled by crunchy Southern-rock guitar and some barrelhouse piano, the song showcases the accessible meat-and-potatoes sound of Daniel, who fits in just as easily in the jam world as he does in country music. He recently opened a string of shows with country thrashers the Cadillac Three, and is embarking on a solo run throughout March, before joining fellow Kentuckians Black Stone Cherry in May.

“As if it’s not blatantly obvious, I’m a massive Allman Brothers Band fan. I saw the band, in many different configurations, over 50 times before brother Gregg left us,” says Daniel, who now calls Nashville home. “That band left a mark on me like no other, and I felt this was the perfect song to display that homage. It feels very throwback to me, with the style as well as the content.”

But Daniel isn’t a retro act. Rather, he’s making vital country-rock, and with peers like Blackberry Smoke, is shoring up the once shaky subgenre. As a songwriter, he’s embracing the songs and themes — “Born to Lose” also nods to Seger’s “Beautiful Loser” — that come naturally. “I remember vividly the morning I woke up with this hook in my head. It was like it was seared into my brain and I had to get it out,” he says of writing the song with Nashville guitarist Jordan Young. “It was so organic how we came to this idea.”

“If taking the high road’s a better man’s game/then I don’t guess that I’ll ever win,” Daniel sings in one potently pessimistic line. But with this hooky lighter-waver, he may want to rethink his worldview.

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