The official music video for Ruston Kelly’s new single, Mockingbird, has premiered across Viacom platforms in an unprecedented partnership between CMT Music, MTVU and MTV Live. Watch/share here.
Of the song and video, Kelly shares, “I wrote Mockingbird in a Dominican hotel, on the edge of a bed, at like six in the morning. I needed a release from a cyclical pattern of a doomed relationship. The kind that leaves you with less than what you went in with. But, what directors Stephen Kinigopoulos and Alexa King reminded me with their proposed story about a single mother, is even though I write about my own personal situations, it’s also everyone’s story: the human condition, our connected plight in a mad world. Regardless of how it’s expressed, we all struggle through something with hope on the other side. That’s this song and that’s this video. That’s also why I fell in love working with them immediately.”
Mockingbird is from Kelly’s highly anticipated full-length debut album, Dying Star, which will be released September 7 on Rounder Records and is now available for pre-order.
Already receiving widespread acclaim, the album’s first track, Jericho, recently premiered to widespread critical praise (watch/share the video here). Stereogum calls it, “… a warmly melancholy acoustic ballad in the vein of A.A. Bondy, Justin Townes Earle, or early Ryan Adams. It’s about learning to stand up for what you believe in, which seems as relevant now as ever. Kelly manages the feat of keeping his rich arrangement relatively minimal so that when background vocals or harmonica rise up in the mix they really stand out.” Additionally, Rolling Stone declares, “Jericho finds Kelly channeling the dark minimalism of Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska with a stark guitar-and-a-harmonica aesthetic,” while EARMILK states, “His unique voice contains this gentle raspiness that makes the vocal delivery of each track both haunting and comforting, while his complex guitar work adds to the overall catchy melodies.”
Dying Star was co-produced by Kelly and Jarrad K (Kate Nash, Weezer) and recorded at Sonic Ranch in El Paso, TX. It includes 14 songs written/co-written by Kelly and features Kelly (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, xylophone, harmonica), Jarrad K (12-string guitar, background vocals, electric guitar, Rhodes), Tim Kelly (pedal steel), Ian Fitchuk (piano, organ, drums, percussion), Eli Beaird (bass) and Kyle Ryan (banjo) as well as background vocals from Jon Green, Natalie Hemby, Kacey Musgraves, Kate York, Abby Sevigny and Joy Williams.
Of the album, Kelly comments, “A lot of my music is focused on suffering, or trying to understand the human condition through the lens of suffering…which probably sounds totally depressing, but it’s actually the flip side of that. Sometimes you’ve gotta go into that darkness—you need to get lost and then figure out for yourself how to find your way back. That’s the only way we can find pure joy, and really be thankful for the life we’ve been given.”
In support of the new album, Kelly will embark on a headline tour this fall including stops at New York’s Mercury Lounge, Philadelphia’s Boot & Saddle, Atlanta’s Vinyl, Chicago’s Schubas Tavern, Los Angeles’ Hotel Café and Seattle’s Sunset Tavern among many others. See below for complete details.
The release of Dying Star follows a breakout year for the Nashville-based artist, whose debut EP, Halloween, was released last April to widespread acclaim. Of the music, Rolling Stone praised, “…shows a powerful grasp on storytelling gleaned from his love of the Carter Family and Townes Van Zandt, but also a more ragged rock & roll soul: it’s Americana, if your Americana is Bruce Springsteen with an acoustic guitar, sung by someone who spins a little heavy metal too,” while the HuffPost declared, “simultaneously current and effortlessly timeless.”
Born in South Carolina, Kelly started playing the guitar under the guidance of his dad, Tim “TK” Kelly, a pedal steel guitarist who now performs in his band. Since his father worked for a paper mill and often changed job locations, Kelly grew up frequently moving, living everywhere from Alabama to Belgium, including time in Michigan—where the young one-time figure skater went to train with an Olympic coach in the hope of furthering his career, and where he first began writing songs. At 17, he moved to Nashville to live with his sister and went on to land a publishing deal with BMG Nashville, placing songs with several high-profile artists.
August 11—Hutto, TX—KOKEFEST
September 23—Indianapolis, IN—Holler On The Hill Festival
October 13—Austin, TX—Austin City Limits Music Festival
October 23—New York, NY—Mercury Lounge*
October 25—Allston, MA—Great Scott*
October 26—Philadelphia, PA—Boot & Saddle*
October 27—Vienna, VA—Jammin Java*
October 28—Richmond, VA—The Camel*
October 30—Atlanta, GA—Vinyl*
November 2—Louisville, KY—Zanzabar*
November 3—Chicago, IL—Schubas Tavern*
November 7—Los Angeles, CA—Hotel Café*
November 8—San Francisco, CA—Hotel Utah Saloon*
November 10—Portland, OR—Bunk Bar*
November 11—Seattle, WA—Sunset Tavern*
November 14—Denver, CO—Globe Hall*
*with support from Katie Pruitt