Reagan Boggs is what one might call a "throwback artist." Her music definitely sounds like what you might have heard on country radio in the 1970s and 1980s, bringing to mind such legendary ladies as Emmylou Harris or Jessi Colter. It's a sound that definitely shows up in her latest album, "Quicksand." She tells The 615 that she couldn't remember a time when music wasn't a part of her life.
"I grew up in a very rural part of southwest Virginia, and we didn't have cable or anything, so my family played music," she recalled. "By the time I could talk, they were teaching me about playing the guitar. There were a lot of different styles of music that we listened to, starting with bluegrass, obviously. I lived just over the hill from Ralph Stanley. There was also a lot of country music, especially the older style that influenced me. Music has been in my life since I can remember. I can't remember ever not wanting to do it," she says, admitting that her Appalachian upbringing helped to make music a very important part of her make up. "Being from that area had a lot to do with it, I'm sure."
Growing up, her influences were far and wide. "My dad loved Dolly and Emmylou. My mom listened to a lot of older rock and roll like The Beatles and Fats Domino. I was always behind on what was popular in music, really because I was listening to more of my parents' music more so than what people my age were listening to. It was very diverse," she says, while admitting that she became especially enamored with the recordings of one of the 1980s top duos. "I loved The Judds. When I started entering talent contests and things like that, ‘Mama He's Crazy' was one of the first songs that I learned to do." But she stresses that "I don't know if I could pick out one style or one singer that influenced me more than any other. I think the combination of all of it made me who I am musically. I guess stylistically, I have ADD. I love all kinds of music – whatever makes me feel something, and isn't contrived."
That would be a statement that would sum up "Not The New Me," one of the cuts off of "Quicksand." She says the heartbreak tune is one that she identifies with. "It's one of my favorite ones to do live. It's an older song, like a hillbilly temptations kind of song. It's about taking a serious subject and making light of it. People are denial all the time about getting over people."
With one exception, Boggs wrote every track off of the album. She says she got an introduction to songwriting first-hand rather than being influenced by other writers. "I started writing songs when I was kid. My mom and dad had a very rocky relationship. My dad was a heavy drinker, and he was abusive. Mom had a very Loretta Lynn-outlook on life. She wrote a lot of songs about trying to straighten him out. For me, a lot was seeing her write them. I don't know if I ever really sat down and listened to other writers for inspiration that much. I do today. I love Lori McKenna. Her songs are so real life. I have a lot of respect for artists like her – they are older but are still viable. I have respect for anybody who can do more than just stand on stage and be pretty."
The one song Boggs didn't write from "Quicksand" is "Better Man," a cover of the Eddie Vedder's classic Pearl Jam song. "It's kind of hard to do that one. It's a classic already," she says. "I really liked the song, and it has a personal message for me in the way I grew up. I thought it would be very interesting to take the song and sing it from the woman's' point of view. It's very third person – outside looking in. It's very common with the woman in the scenario who's staying. I thought it would be different to do it from that point of view. I've seen it first hand how women stay and they hope things will get better. They lie to themselves. It's easier to stay than change."
Boggs plans to spend her spring and summer visiting radio stations and playing dates in Virginia, Texas, and the District of Columbia, where she has a strong following. "We're just going to keep plugging it," she said. "I definitely want to get out and play as much as I can."