“I was in a relationship with someone I really loved and I was on the road as well and I was just drinking a bunch and I was starting to lose control a bit,” Sewell admits. “She in particular thought that I had a big problem with it...so it was about me coming to terms with that and trying to get clean for her.”
He acknowledges the fine line between his previous partner’s intervening efforts and their incompatible standards that ultimately defines the blunt honesty that embodies his new music.
“I feel like sometimes people want you to change when you’re in a relationship and there are things about yourself that sometimes you’re not ready to change or you can’t,” he says. “I was actually sober at the time -- I was trying not to drink, trying not to go out, and trying to make her happy -- but in the end it didn’t work because I was trying to do everything for her, not for me.”
The experience challenged Sewell to dig to the root of his troubles while taking inventory of his increasingly shaky lifestyle. Despite the eventual demise of his relationship, he has come out of it more thoughtful and resolute in his actions. This becomes more evident on his second offering “Healing Hands,” where Sewell seems more removed from the drama in “Clean” by showing his gratitude to the “amazing women” that have held him up at his lowest times, including his mother and his current girlfriend.
“They see these moments where I’m kind of self-sabotaging or like ruining it, and they want to heal me in a way...and I know that they’re right, but for some reason I still f*ck up,” he jokes in a self-deprecating tone.
“Healing Hands” proves that Sewell’s new mindset hasn’t stifled his sharp pop sensibilities, but rather infuses his affective vocals with more heart and a fresh perspective. Fittingly, the “gospel moment” that Sewell points to at the song’s choral climax was the key that cracked the code for the sound of his latest project.
“On all the songs, we stripped it all back and made it about a great lyric, a great honest lyric and a big vocal,” he reveals. “For me, my strength is my voice and it’s a powerful instrument and if you put too much production over it, it kind of dulls it down...so we tried to keep this as raw as possible, and I think that gives it a little bit more of a rock ‘n’ roll feel and it cuts through a bit more.”
The Los Angeles-based artist has been testing his boundaries in the studio, working with the likes of Timbaland and James Fauntleroy along with “Start Again” collaborator Jamie Hartman. Despite the many different directions he could take from here, Sewell has never been more assured in the voice that leads it all.
“I still feel like it’s the beginning,” he states before referring to the whirlwind of noise following his Kygo feature on "Firestone". “The outside world will think it was a big success, but it still doesn’t feel like my success in a way. I still feel like I’ve got so much to prove.”
Check out “Come Clean” and “Healing Hands” from Ghosts & Heartaches via 300 Entertainment below.