Tawnya Reynolds -Â 8 Track
On my way to The Sutler Saloon to talk with Tawnya Reynolds about her latest record,Â 8 Tracks, I was listening to the album for the fourth or fifth time in my car. Tawnyaâ€™s straight-forward brand of country songwriting pumped out of the speakers of my silver Dodge Grand Caravan and caught me feeling a little nostalgic for my time growing up in the Southwest.
Cutting across Interstate 440, her single â€œB-Sideâ€ reminded me of the reasons that we love music– country or otherwise. I was so transfixed by her voice, the guitar riffs, and all of those pedal steel licks that I hadnâ€™t realized that my gas light had clicked on three miles ago and the meter was pointed squarely and precisely at â€œEmpty.â€
Thatâ€™s the kind of power and honesty that Tawnya Reynolds and her music have. Not too honest, though. A few of the songs onÂ 8 Tracks, especially â€œSide Effects,â€ deal with love and loss so well that I foolishly asked whether or not this was a â€œbreak-upâ€ record. Tawnya graciously clued me into the fact that her husband, Cole Wright, produced and co-wrote with her across the album. She had me fooled, guys. Swing and a miss.
â€œWhen youâ€™re honest in a song and when you let the song tell itself, you donâ€™t have to make anything up,â€ she said. â€œOver so many years of writing songs, Iâ€™ve never tried to tell a story that Iâ€™ve neither gone through or seen someone else go through.â€
Tawnyaâ€™s music feels both timeless and effortless– qualities that helped her land a spot on Shakiraâ€™s team during season four ofÂ The Voice.
â€œA friend of mine was on the first season, but I was never one for the reality thing,â€ she said. â€œMy husband said â€˜If it ever comes up, youâ€™ve gotta do it. Your audience would be huge,â€™ so I thought about it and came to the conclusion that If itâ€™s not meant for me, I wonâ€™t make itâ€
â€œI had an audition, I went to Memphis, and I sang Willie Nelson which they specifically asked me not to do.â€
After The Voice, Tawnya started kicking around ideas for a new record and the songs that would eventually becomeÂ 8 Tracks.
â€œThe plan was to find a sound and a group of songs that sound cohesive together, but have their own identity,â€ she says. â€œI didnâ€™t want it to sound like one big song. The whole plan was to not hold myself to one genre. I have a way of dipping into different genres without letting go of who I am.â€
The albumâ€™s lead single, â€œB-Side,â€ has the trimmings of a full-on country swing ballad, but resonates with listeners of every genre. Every music fan can understand Tawnyaâ€™s refrain in the chorus: â€œPlay me somethinâ€™ on the B-side / Somethingâ€™s that never seen the spotlight.â€
For Tawnya, her early explorations into songs on the flip side of singles brought with them some of her first experiences with country music.
â€œMy first introduction to Merle Haggard was a B-side song that my mom always used to play in our van all the time called â€œDaddy Frank (The Guitar Man).â€ As a kid, I didnâ€™t grasp what the song was about, I just knew I liked the melody. â€œ
Tawnya put her time in at the honky tonks on Broadway. Sheâ€™s signed publishing contracts and toured the country back and forth. Sheâ€™s been settled in Nashville for more than a decade now, andÂ 8 TrackÂ is the culmination of that time and those experiences. The albumâ€™s title harkens back to something we may find to be obsolete these days, but both the album 8 Track and its eponymous cassette deck format deliver fantastic country music when itâ€™s needed. Thankfully, Tawnyaâ€™s record doesnâ€™t have those horribleÂ ka-chunkÂ sounds between every song
Learn more about Tawnya’s music atÂ her website