Nashville singer-songwriter Charlie Whitten doesn't mince words. That's evident on new song "Since She's Gone."
"As far as I'm concerned," he sings, "we're all just gonna die."
But don't let that somber lyric mislead the otherwise benevolent, upbeat song. In fact, it's one of the most cheerful sounding songs on his new four-track EP Playwright.
"Fun little tune," Whitten tells Wide Open Country. "I'm pretty proud of that little guitar solo," he says, referencing the rollicking trip up the neck around the 1:30 mark. "Not bad for a singer-songwriter, eh?"
Not bad at all. But Whitten also has plenty of experience playing guitar for others on the road. And most recently he enjoyed a stint as Andrew Combs' bass player. Certainly all moments that helped inform this new track. But at the heart, it's a song about a girl.
"This song is a reflection on a time when I was very interested in a gal, and she just wasn't having it," Whitten says. "It was a humbling experience, but I needed it. You can't coerce love, I suppose. No matter how bad you want it."
Whitten then references one of the lyrics. "If you're forcing her to think it's meant to be, your heart will end up lying in pieces on the floor."
"Embarrassingly enough, my pride was the only cause for pain," Whitten says. Introspective guy.
Listen to the premiere below.
Whitten's voice carries a simple smoothness. He's calm and unwavering, despite his aforementioned pride taking a massive beating. It also helps the song envelops a steady percussive trod to carry him along. And then there's that adventurous bass line entering some cool near-shred territory.
Vocally, there's even a hint of Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie). But he says he draws most of his influence from the 1960s and 1970s.
"For me, the 60s and 70s were the golden age for songwriting," he says. He lauds unique melodies and out-of-the-box songwriting of the era.
Those influences guided him through two bodies of work. 2012's Dreaming borrowed heavily from Pink Floyd's effervescent soft psychedelic side. Then in 2014, he turned a bit more acoustic on Hey Love.
Now Charlie Whitten is preparing the four-song Playwright as the next iteration of his whimsy. His steady, peaceful voice a constant throughout his work, this time sees him veering closer to Americana territory. The collection comes out Aug. 25.