By Andrew Ellis, Editor-in-Chief
Doug Collins had a different path calling him for his new album, Good Sad News. He took his time rather than simply recording a bunch of songs he had ready. And it started with a sit down with co-producer Rob Genadek.
“We sat down and tried to find out how we wanted to sound,” he says. “ And once we did the songs came together, both sonically and thematically.”
The album’s title comes from the phrase he and his friend used to describe the songs he writes – they sound happy, but are usually pretty sad. This one also became a bit of a concept record revolving around relationships, and Collin didn’t even realize what the theme was until later on.
“The record is a treatise on relationships – how we want them, how we don’t necessarily know how to handle them once we have, and how we deal with them when they’re done,” he says.
He expands his sound a little bit, too. While his Hank-Williams-meets-Rodney-Crowell sound is still there, he also drew from the music his mom played around the house when he was growing up. That’s where “Please Don’t Make Me Leave You” came from.
“My mom has always been a big fan of those big belter singers from the 50s like Johnny Ray and Frankie Lane,” he says. “And loving Ray Price, late period Elvis and Roy Orbison myself, I thought I would try to make something in that genre.”
The song was so different in style that he admits to being nervous about bringing the song to his band. But he was pleasantly surprised to find out they were all into it. “Tomorrow” is a ballad that started out as political song, but it just wasn’t turning out like he’d hoped. So he returned to his heartache roots and turned it into a song he’s way more comfortable with.
Then there are songs where the inspiration came out of nowhere like “I Saw You Dancin’.” The pedal steel-soaked ballad was literally inspired by watching one of his friends dancing at a show.
“The title came into my head, and I went home and wrote the song,” he says. “This is one that I’m proud of, as it did what I set out to accomplish – I made a sad little country number.”
He also recently released a video for his first single, “Conversation with My Heart,” which has been a lot of attention for its creativeness, and an appearance by fellow Minneapolis singer-songwriter Katy Vernon. The song itself revolves around a man fatigued by failed relationships.
“Going through what seemingly was yet another round of heartache,” he says. “I literally wished I could actually talk to my heart to make it stop falling in love so quickly and often.”
Aside from the relationship theme there are a few other aspects that tie these songs to each other and the rest of his ever-growing catalog. There’s the fact that his songwriting is constantly informed by the Beatles and country music legends like Harlan Howard and Roger Miller in addition to host of other diverse influences. He also constantly plays live.
“All of these songs have had extensive road work in front of lots of different crowds,” he says. “And in listening to them listen to me, it helped tighten (or expand) the work.”