Adam Wright’s new album Dust — whose gothic-styled revenge tale “Billy, Get Your Bike” premieres exclusively below — is the product of a creative crisis of sorts for the Americana singer-songwriter and member of the Wrights.
After writing songs for the likes of Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks and Lee Ann Womack (who guests on Dust), Wright tells Billboard that he “was pretty disenfranchised with a lot of things when I started working on these songs. I didn’t want to be writing songs for other people anymore. I didn’t like what I was hearing on the radio. I didn’t like records people were making. I wasn’t interested in it. I just sort of hit a wall with all that. It became really boring to me, and I felt like ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ I was not happy at all with the songwriter I was. I had to find a new way to do this.”
Wright found the answer by “just shutting the blinds on my co-writing and the Music Row machine” and holing up by himself to write material specifically tailored for him to sing. “I went down to the basement, so to speak, and tried to see what was down there,” Wright says. “I decided I wasn’t gonna come out unless I found something that inspired me and scared me at the same time.”
The venture worked. The 10-track Dust is intimate and heartfelt, with richly crafted melodies and hushed, spacious arrangements. Lyrically, meanwhile, Wright offers intricate narratives and pointed observations. “I started changing the way I wrote songs,” Wright says. “It was more like writing short stories, a slower, more deliberate process. I researched topics for weeks before I would actually turn them into songs. I’d never written like that. I just kept following that thread until I felt like I had an album.”
“Billy, Get Your Bike” is a genuinely scary moment from Wright’s pen, a graphic tale about a youth’s savage reclamation of some stolen property that, suffice to say, does not end well. “It’s a true story,” the Georgia-born Wright says. “I grew up with a guy whose name was Billy and his dad is the kid in the song. I remember him telling me this story when I was 12 or 13, and it was so shocking. It stuck with me. I’m not sure how it came back into my mind when I was working on this album, but I just started trying to make a song out it. It took a very long time to make it work in a way that I was happy with.”
The two-year exercise of making Dust also succeeded in helping Wright feel re-enfranchised with co-writing again. “When I was done I was so sick of walling in my own stench I was ready to have co-writers and get back into that world, and I’m still there now,” he says. “It’s a different kind of writing — someone comes into my room and I enjoy helping them write what they want to write. It’s nice to have that infusion of new ideas and new energy. But there’s a season for that and then I’ll get burnt out with it and need to go write on my own again.”