Sawyer Fredericks digs deep on his fourth album, Flowers For You — including one song he wrote when he was 12 years old. But the now 21-year-old Season 8 The Voice champ hopes that the 12-song set, out May 1 and premiering exclusively below, shows growth from both the distant and recent past.
“The goal of this album for me was I wanted to feature the band more on this one,” Fredericks, who produced the album himself at Dreamland Recording Studio in Woodstock, tells Billboard. “I feel my last album (2018’s Hide Your Ghost) was mainly focused on myself and more emotional lyrics. This time I wanted to get more rock tunes on there and show some of my blues roots. It conveys a little more how we perform when we’re live. We have a lot of rockin’ tunes when we’re live.”
A case in point is certainly the nine-year-old “Not My Girl,” which Fredericks notes has “evolved since I’ve been working with a band. (The album) is a very broad range of styles — a lot of Americana, roots and then blues-rock, even some jazz because all my band members are jazz majors and they just can’t help themselves.” The muso component is also bolstered with guest appearances by Katie Larson and Sav Buist from the Accidentals, who contribute strings to “Days Go By” and “Lies You Tell.”
“Lies You Tell” is also the first co-write Fredericks has ever put on one his albums. Penned with Smith Carlson and Collin McLoughlin, it was originally intended for his sophomore effort, 2016’s A Good Storm, and is another tune that’s “evolved” during the interim. “At the time I was working with Republic Records and they got me in the studio to do co-writing,” recalls Fredericks, who’s now with Windrake Recordings. “I was so nervous going into it, the only way I would write is if I asked the other artists to leave the room — which doesn’t work with co-writing. Somewhere along the line it got put on a shelf and was never finished for (A Good Storm) but I’ve been playing it live a lot. I’ve gotten really good at finger-picking that song and people like it when we play it, so I decided I really wanted to have it on an album.” Fredericks’ band members also receive co-writing credit on the track “Call It Good.”
Fredericks’ schedule is, like others, “in limbo” right now due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, including a slew of postponed show dates. He’s planning more online appearances to promote the album, but says he didn’t give much thought to pushing back the release itself. “We’re just trying to make the very best out of it, make videos for people (to watch) while they’re at home and stuff like that,” he says. “It’ll be fun. The shows are already canceled, so why would I cancel the album, too?”