The title track and video for Michael Ray‘s forthcoming Dive Bars & Broken Hearts album is out now, and what a song it is. The Florida native is fully embracing his country roots with the song, something he vowed to do with all the songs on the project.
“I really wanted to pull the reality and the music together,” Ray says of the video for “Dive Bars & Broken Hearts,” directed by Ray’s longtime collaborator, Spidey Smith. “I want people to understand where I come from, how I got there, why I love watching country music come to life from all those bandstands I was on growing up… And I wanted people to realize all those things I sing about aren’t just things on a checklist, but stuff I have grown up around.”
The Dive Bars & Broken Hearts title track in many ways guided all of the songs on the EP, which takes Ray back to the music he grew up on, and still loves today.
“When you were raised on ‘80s and ‘90s country, and even older stuff, some things just are,” the 35-year-old says. “The way the acoustic guitar comes up out of the mix, the smell of cigarette smoke, pawn shop diamond rings, Haggard’s ‘Misery & Gin’…All those things and a beat you can dance to is a big piece of playing for tips.
“Knowing that, when I was trying to decide what to call this project, I wanted something that stripped it back to the frame,” he continues. “Dive Bars & Broken Hearts is me getting to the sound I’ve always heard in my head, something that’s played on a jukebox or a bandstand in a bar somewhere just outside of town.”
Ray teamed up with Michael Knox to produce Dive Bars & Broken Hearts, marking a new musical chapter for Ray as a result.
“When you came up punching it out in bars, there’s a different kind of energy,” Ray says. “Michael let me record with live players, sing about things I knew – and trusted that who I am is who all the people I’ve been playing for since I was a kid are, too. We kept finding songs that felt right for who I am, and we kept singing live and pulling the heart out of the songs. It’s been an amazing process. When we’ve been playing, you can feel the difference with the new stuff… so we’re now using the road to really dial in what Dive Bars & Broken Hearts is gonna be.”
Find all of Ray’s music and upcoming shows at MichaelRayMusic.com.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of EB Media / Spidey Smith