The world oughta know Waylon Payne by now. His mama was outlaw country queen Sammi Smith. His daddy was Willie Nelson’s longtime guitarist Jody Payne. One guess who he’s probably named after. He’s written songs for the likes of Miranda Lambert and Lee Ann Womack, among others. He even played Jerry Lee Lewis in Walk The Line. But somehow he’s slipped under the big-time radar so far. Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his upcoming first album since 2004, should fix that. Hell, the two-fisted pulp-fiction title alone oughta grab you. And even if it doesn’t, trust me, the first three songs from the fall release will. In fact, if the raw emotion and shambling gospel blues of Sins of the Father don’t add up to one of the most indelible country tracks you’ve heard this month, I’ll fight you. I suspect Payne just might too — and I’m pretty sure he’s way more trouble than me. Even if you take both of us, you’ll still have to deal with the grim Dead On A Wheel and the redemptive folk-rocker What A High Horse — and they’re both solid knockouts. Can’t wait for Act II. A world of Payne has never sounded so good.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Waylon Payne releases the first of four acts from his forthcoming album Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, out Sept. 11. Act I features three new original songs: Sins of the Father, Dead on a Wheel and High Horse. The four-act album represents Payne’s first new music in more than 16 years. Produced by Eric Masse (Miranda Lambert, Rayland Baxter) and Frank Liddell (Lambert, Lee Ann Womack), Blue Eyes … has already been praised as a stunner of an album. In each song, he testifies to a decade-long journey, through drug addiction, the loss of his parents and homelessness, as well as the grace and relationships that led him to sobriety and redemption. “The essential DNA elements of this record are my written confessions and pleas for forgiveness,” says Payne. “It all revolved around me getting right with myself and the universe. Maybe I still am a preacher in a way — I just channel it into what’s supposed to be.” As the son of country artist Sammi Smith and longtime Willie Nelson guitarist Jody Payne, Waylon’s country music roots run deep. His own childhood came flooding back while recording this album at Southern Ground studio in Nashville. In a past life, the room had been known as Monument Studios, and it was there that Payne’s mother had cut Help Me Make It Through The Night and a slew of other memorable tracks. Guests on the album include Cage the Elephant guitarist Nick Bockrath, Nelson’s long-time harmonica player Mickey Raphael and others.