“William Faulkner says that every artist is addressing themselves on some level,” says James Wilson, lead vocalist of Sons of Bill. “You’re writing to learn about yourself. I know that can sound incredibly egocentric, but what you hope is that you really hit flint with the whole thing and make people think you’ve tapped their phone lines.”
On their upcoming album Oh God Ma’am, due out June 29, the central Virginia outfit offer up their most ambitious and complete statement to date. On the new album, the band of brothers not only create a vivid and imaginative sonic landscape, they venture into the most inner thoughts of the modern man with dreamlike reflections, self-discovery and contemplative insight. In some respects, they get lost within their deepest thoughts with solitary late night drives that still find the “spiritual pulse of the times.”
On their latest single, “Firebird 85,” Sons of Bill deliver an early ’80s era Bruce Springsteen-esque blue-collar narrative. Written by guitarist Abe Wilson, he captures the daydreaming that breaks up the monotonous tasks that make up our daily routines and ordinary lives. Rather than focusing on “five o’clock somewhere” tropes, the Wilson brothers and company channel a version of the working man blues.
“It’s this very normal guy who’s having this cinematic redemptive daydream about getting off work daying—one of the other, I’m not sure,” James tells Wide Open Country. “All of us are kind of living out our mundane lives in 2018, yet we’re all lost in the grand thoughts of our own heads.”
Sons of Bill—brothers James, Abe and Sam Wilson along with Joe Dickey and Todd Wellons—recorded the Love and Logic followup in Seattle and Nashville with esteemed engineers Phil Ek (Band of Brothers, Fleet Foxes) and Sean Sullivan (Sturgill Simpson). Instead of being rushed and pressed for time like on previous albums, the quintet took their time perfecting Oh God Ma’am‘s seamless soundscape. While they certainly hinted at spacey synth-fueled charges on previous efforts, they fully embrace the rich mood setter this time around.
They push themselves into darker, unknown territory with earnest anthemic rushes and glowing harmonies while still maintaining a wrapped up intimacy. Most of the time, artists can only choose one aura or temper, yet Sons of Bill navigate a fine line that draws from both worlds.
“We wanted to create a sonic world for these songs to live in,” says James. “Whenever you’re making a record, you’re really just chasing your goosebumps. You’re trying to find what feels like magic. That’s really your only guideline—to never distrust your goosebumps.”