“She just likes Cincinnati more than me,” admits Americana songwriter Will Payne Harrison about the subject of a second single off his new album, Living With Ghosts. The track — “Anne Marie” — was written in the fruitless hopes it would convince a certain young woman to leave the Queen City for Harrison’s home in Nashville.
Harrison grew up in Louisiana, simmering in its rich musical heritage and culture. Then, five years ago, he made the move to Nashville hoping to find work as a music publicist.
“After a swift Nashville kick-in-the-butt I realized that I could do it if I worked hard,” Harrison recently wrote in a post on Facebook. Since then, he’s released two albums and an EP, chronicling his development along the way as a songwriter to be reckoned with.
Living With Ghosts is an engaging dispatch, a shaken mixture of Bayou and Nashville influences settling in a solution of 100-proof small-town America.
“(The album) represents my growth as an artist, songwriter and musician,” Harrison wrote in August on social media, “but (it’s) also a reconnection to my Louisiana roots.”
Although he’s obviously no stranger to our greater Cincinnati region, the album release show will be his first here with what he calls the “Nashville band,” consisting of Tim Kuras on drums, Steven Dunn on bass and Ben de la Cour on lead guitar.
Harrison’s first album, East Nashville Blues, was an exploration of Country and Bluegrass songwriter traditions, a trip down hallowed hallways and a bold opening statement. That was followed by last year’s Blue, an EP collecting primarily cover tunes bound by references to the color blue.
As for what lies ahead, one would be forgiven to assume more tracks of unrequited admiration are on deck — after all, the first single on Ghosts was also written about a woman who caught his eye, this time in Lafayette. Not so, Harrison assures.
“I think I met my quota for the year on songs about women,” he jokes. “From now on, it’s all murder ballads, whiskey and Gospel songs.”
Will Payne Harrison plays with Chelsea Ford and The Trouble and My Brother’s Keeper this Friday at the Southgate House Revival in Newport. Tickets/more info: southgatehouse.com.