Marcus King has well established himself as a six-string hotshot with his two previous albums and hundreds of incendiary live performances. But he wants the Marcus King Band’s upcoming Carolina Confessions, whose “Where I’m Headed” premieres exclusively below, to showcase another aspect of his creativity.
“I wanted this record to focus a little bit more on songwriting and the structure of the tune itself,” King, who recorded the album with Dave Cobb in Nashville, tells Billboard. That led to a loose concept for the 10-song set, which King describes as “the confessional side of things. Music, for me, is a way to say what’s on my mind and kind of a way to explain that — just like true confession, if you feel guilty and want to get some things off your chest. That’s how writing is and making music is for me.”
And while much of the album is “from the perspective of a relationship that’s not worked out,” “Where I’m Headed” has a more upbeat tone. “I wrote that about a very special lady,” who’s still in the picture, says King, who crafted the track from a hook he’s been sitting on for awhile. “It’s just about always being on the road and not really knowing where you’re going next. A lot of times people ask where we’re going and I don’t really remember without looking at the tour book. So I’m saying to her that I don’t know where I’m headed, but I know you’ll be there.”
King — who wrote much of Carolina Confessions‘ material in France during his last European tour — found both working with Cobb and recording in RCA’s iconic Studio A to be inspiring. “That studio had some really friendly ghosts in there. You can really feel that energy,” King says. Cobb, meanwhile, distinguished himself by playing along on acoustic guitar while King and his band were tracking the songs. “I’d overdub an acoustic part, or wouldn’t if it didn’t need it, but just having him in there rather than hearing it through the glass in the control room with us was really cool,” King says. “It just added to the vibe we had going.”
And fans can rest assured that while King may have been focusing on songwriting, there are still plenty of stinging guitar solos throughout the album, particularly on longer workouts such as “Homesick,” “How Long” (co-written with Dan Auerbach and Pat McLaughlin), and the title track. “I still wanted there to be that aspect of it,” King explains. “That’s kind of hand and hand for me as far as expressing myself. Playing is another way for me to get things out there that I’m feeling. We didn’t want it to be necessarily a guitar-driven record or a singer-songwriter record; We wanted it to be well-rounded and not have too much of any one thing, and I hope that’s how it comes across.”
King is currently on the road, and with Carolina Confessions out Oct. 5, King predicts “a lot of touring on the horizon” — including his Marcus King Band Family Reunion Festival the weekend of release in Black Mountain, N.C. and a European tour during October. King is also hoping to record a live album, and he’s happy to have more new material to make part of the shows.
“We don’t like to play the same show every night,” he says. “I feel like we would get tired of that, and we want to be as into it as possible. So it’s certainly good to have as many tunes on the bench as possible to throw in there, and to have them out so people know ’em when we play ’em.”