2016 CD REVIEW
YOU SHOULD BE HERE (WARNER).
COLE BURNS ON PATHOS PRIMED PATERNAL PAEAN
“It's perfect outside it's like God let me dial up the weather/ got the whole crew here, I ain't seen some of them in forever/ it's one of those never forget it/ better stop and take it in kinda scenes/ everything's just right yeah except for one thing/ you should be here, standing with your arm around me here/ cutting up, cracking a cold beer, saying cheers/ hey y'all it's sure been a good year/ it's one of those moments, that's got your name written all over it/ and you know that if I had just one wish it'd be that you didn't have to miss this/ you should be here.” - You Should Be Here - Cole Swindell-Ashley Gorley.
When Cole Swindell left Georgia Southern University in Glennville, where he majored in marketing, to pursue a music career in Nashville his mother Betty was in shock.
"Her heart was breaking," Swindell, now 32, revealed as he eulogised his late father William in You Should Be Here - title track of his second album.
Sadly the Swindell sire died tragically at 65 in 2013 before his prolific singer-songwriter son's career hit top gear with a brace of hits for himself and other artists.
Cole explained his dad endorsed his desire for a music career but died shortly after he was signed to major label Warner.
"He supported me and was so proud,” Swindell recalled.
“That's what chokes me up today, hearing other people say, 'God, you have no idea how much he talked about you.' That chills me."
Swindell senior missed his son's rise to fame after selling merchandise for fellow Georgian Southern University graduate and chart-topper Luke Bryan.
"The fans know I love fun and I love to be on that stage, but amongst all that fun I lost my dad a couple of years ago in a freak accident, not expected,” says Swindell.
“It was a tough time for me - right when I got my record deal, everything was happening and this is my chance to show that side of me. You have your own opinions about music, but there's a lot of folks out there that don't know you personally and this is very personal to me. I hope they don't relate to it from having lost a parent, but I think anybody can from just the way we miss folks and how lucky we all are to do the things we do.
“ You Should Be Here set the tone that, alright everybody, I want you to listen to this album.
“It matters if people believe you or not. The songs you record, I think you have to believe them as well, and that was one that was very, very believable for me. When I was writing it with Ashley Gorley, I had chills the whole time. I didn't know what a game-changer it was going to be, but I remember when I wrote it that it was one of those things that I hadn't written about; I lost my dad, but I hadn't really sat down and wrote a song about it. The first album, I lost him by then, but I wasn't ready to sing about it.”
“I try to write songs from real life experiences, but they're not all like that. You Should Be Here is the most personal song I've ever written. That song really just explains so many things for me. And that's why I named the album You Should Be Here . Not only is that the song title but I just kind of feel like that's where I am in my life right now. That song is the most important thing to me that I've ever done.”
Swindell believes his album's initial success was fuelled by its title track.
“I moved here to write that kind of song,” Swindell says.
“I didn't know that was the song I was going to be writing, but that's the kind of song that made me fall in love with country music. It just shows you, if you're real and honest and open up to the fans and everybody, they're the same way.”
And the paternal lyrics?
“He always had a smile on his face - the coolest guy,” Swindell recalled.
“The second verse, the “you'd be takin' too many pictures on your phone,” I kind of wrote that about him. He got to see me play after I got my record deal and he had so many pictures and videos of the whole thing. He could have been with the video crew. He was out there documenting it and looking back that makes me smile. Just to know how proud he was; that was him and that's what reminded me of him. Just taking too many pictures on his phone.”
FLYING HIGH WITH A BENTLEY
“Sippin' on this 7-7, never been this close to heaven/ got her pretty turned up to 11/ dropping them dead on the dance floor/ somebody better call a doctor/ she's a little heart stopper/ I'm talking breaker, breaker one niner/ she's a flatliner, oh, she's a flatliner.” - Flatliner - Cole Swindell-Jaron Boyer-Matt Bronleewe.
“Nothing changed as far as wanting the best songs. Fortunately, I felt like I was in a position to get better songs. I wrote the ones I could, and there are some phenomenal ones that I bet I wouldn't have had a chance at on the first album. Whether I write them or not, I think all these songs are on a different level for me as an artist. If you're real and honest and open up to the fans and everybody, they're the same way. It matters if people believe you or not."
Swindell is joined by Arizona born singing pilot Bentley, who toured here with former Australian of The Year Lee Kernaghan in 2012, on dance hall doctor duet Flatliner.
He says the energy charged concert favourite was an obvious choice as his album entrée after the duo spent most of their time in studio cracking jokes.
“I was like a kid,” Swindell confessed.
“I had a vocal after that and I couldn't hardly calm down to sing it. Having that kind of song, I think, for the live aspect - it's gotta be the most up-tempo song I've ever recorded or ever written; it's insane how fast it is.”
“ Remember Boys is one I didn't write, but I thought it was perfect for the last track on the album, because it's kind of where I am in life, I feel like,” revealed Swindell of the acoustic ballad penned by Brad Tursi of Old Dominion and Andrew Dorff.
“Songs like Broke Down, Middle of a Memory . I'm so proud I wrote those, because those are real things that I think we've all been through, and this album is, whether it's fun or not so fun, I hope it's real to everybody, and everybody listens to the whole album.”
Swindell wrote power ballad Broke Down - one of three break-up songs on the disc - with his producer Michael Carter and Gorley.
“I haven't had a bad breakup in a while,” Swindell revealed, “but I think we've all been there.”
The album's second single, Middle of a Memory , is accompanied by a video of him telling his father he received a record contract and montages of Cole and his brothers grieving outside of the family home and at their father's grave.
The video also shows images of Cole's popularity when he wanted to be able to see his father and share this fame experience with him.
The Tursi-Terry McBride positive love song Up is included for balance.
“For me, that first album, there was a lot of fun stuff,” he says.
“But this is me too. It's so funny, but unless you release that kind of song people don't know as much about you as they think you do.”
No Can Left Behind is a party song but the album also exudes depth of emotion - especially Remember When.
Swindell credits producer-songwriter Carter for his security.
“As an artist, I can say, ‘I love that. Whatever he just did, I can't spell it or pronounce it, but I love it,'” Swindell confessed.
“Having Michael there to be able to talk to the band - him being around me since the merchandise days, we just know it without having to say it to each other. I think that makes a big, big difference, when you're comfortable with your producer.
“I wasn't even writing songs when I first started singing in college. After that, though, I realized I was playing all of these cover songs, and I should be writing my own songs.”
GEORGIAN HITS ON COLE'S MIND
“These days, I can't even hear a wave crash/ and I get carried away and go George Strait back/ to a slow dance out in the sand When the keg was still cold and she was holding my hand/ she had this old boy from the boondocks/ sweet talking, walking on moon rocks/ I wish somebody would have told her/ this party, this party wasn't over.” - Party Wasn't Over - Cole Swindell-Canaan Smith-Tyler Hubbard-Bryan Kelley.
Swindell had plenty of practice on arrival in Music City when he scored a publishing deal with Sony/ATV Music and wrote hits for fellow Georgians Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Craig Campbell and Thomas Rhett - son of Rhett Akins.
Cole co-wrote Campbell's Outta My Head , Rhett's Top 5 hit Get Me Some of That , Scott McCreery's Water Tower Town and Carolina Eyes .
Tennessean Chris Young also included Swindell song Nothing But The Cooler Left on his A.M. album.
Cole penned many Bryan tunes - Just a Sip, Beer in the Headlights, Roller Coaster, Out Like That, I'm Hungover, I'm in Love with the Girl, Love in a College Town, Shore Thing, Shake the Sand and The Sand I Brought to the Beach .
Swindell also earned healthy publishing royalties for writing This is How We Roll by Florida Georgia Line and Bryan.
“When they were out on tour with Luke I was writing with them,” Swindell revealed of the smash.
“We kind of started it up and thought it'd be cool if Luke came in on it. He dug it and helped us finish writing it.”
But his early influences were observations selling merchandise on the road for Bryan for three years.
“Back then, he was a new artist so I was getting to see what a new artist did,” Swindell recalled.
“At the time I was just focusing on being a better songwriter. Being out there and getting to finally write with somebody you look up to was a big deal to me. It fired me up. Getting to witness what a new artist has to go through and I had to do it; it was like I had been there but not really.”
The singer also revealed how Bryan's hit Beer In The Headlights was one that got away.
“The one that really is a cool story is the song Luke recorded on his last album called Beer in the Headlights ,” Swindell explained.
“I always felt like before I wrote Chillin' It that Beer would be my first single if I was an artist. I love that song. When he recorded it, I was so happy that he recorded it. I would have never sold as many albums he sold with that song on there. It was better off that he recorded it. I did say to myself, that's how I need to feel about a song in order to keep it. If I'm going to do this artist thing, I've got to have the right song. It's all about the song. After he recorded that, a couple of months later I wrote Chillin' It and I said this is it. I'm not giving this to anybody. We had to go to my publishing company and say, ‘Look. I know I don't have a record deal, but please believe in me that I can do this.' It was a big deal for them to let me keep it and not send it to another artist. I appreciate everybody believing that I could pull that song off myself.”
And the song's source?
“I just had that title, and I was writing with my buddy Shane Minor that day,” Swindell recalled.
“I had just come off the road from somewhere and told him I had the title, Chillin' It . I don't think there's any other way to write it - just you and your girl having a laid-back kind of day thing. We just tried to throw some catchy cool lines in there with a little melody. That's what I wanted. We didn't plan on writing that as my first single, but that's what I wanted my first single to be - something that people could just catch on to and know me by my first single. Now, we get to follow that up and keep moving.”