Trent Dabbs’ New Album Offers Finely-Tuned Acoustic Pop
Singer-songwriter explores new territory on The Optimist
“You see the thing about hometowns, people dying just to stick around, but I was never good at settling down,” Trent Dabbs sings in the opening line of the opening song on The Optimist, out
July 22 on Ready Set Records. The track sets the tone for the rest of the record, and sums up Dabbs’ creativity – he really is no good at settling down – artistically, at least.
The Optimist is the Mississippi native’s tenth solo record in 12 years, comprised of finely-tuned acoustic pop songs. Dabbs is known for the sophistication in his lyrics, a trademark present on the new album. Songs like “Optimists” and “In My Own Way” showcase his talent, along with “Don’t Believe in Stars” – which Dabbs had previously written and recorded with The Optimist‘s co-creator, songwriter Daniel Tashian (The Silver Seas, Josh Rouse, Mindy Smith). Inspired by Pops Staples, Tobias Jesso Jr., Bahamas, Cowboy Junkies, and Bob Dylan, Tashian’s pop sensibilities are very much present on the album, uplifting but never overshadowing Dabbs’ own artistic aesthetic. Songs like “Closing Time,” “Disappearing Weekend,” and “Jennifer in Cursive” show Dabbs’ ability to amp things up when needed.
Dabbs, who has always loved working with Tashian, decided to exclusively write with him and have him produce this new album. “On this record, I could hear the bones of several songs, but it really needed the collaboration with Tashian to have flesh,” Dabbs explains. “I don’t want to be in my own head; I want to be in someone else’s. I want to take any skill set I have and hear a version of it way beyond me, and that takes collaboration.”
A true musical renaissance man, Dabbs is also half of Sugar + the Hi-Lows with Amy Stroup; co-founder of the Ten Out of Tenn artists’ collective and Ready Set Records with his wife Kristen; a sought-after co-writer for Ingrid Michaelson, Kacey Musgraves, Lori McKenna, Ashley Monroe, Joy Williams, and others; and a producer for developing acts like Young Summer. Sugar + the Hi-Lows have played stages like the Ryman in Nashville and Royal Albert Hall in London, as well as opened for Ingrid Michaelson. The introduction to the singer-songwriter led to Dabbs co-writing six cuts on her 2014 LP, including “Girls Chase Boys.” His songs have often appeared on Billboard charts, radio stations, and television shows.