Taylor Hunnicutt is championing her home state with debut album ‘Alabama Sound’

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By Alli Patton

What does Alabama sound like – musically? The state offers a diverse symphony of swampy rock, swaggering blues, murky country, and bone-rattling soul. It’s a sound singer-songwriter Taylor Hunnicutt recently reimagined on her debut album Alabama Sound, which is out now.

She will also perform with her band at the Helena Amphitheater on Saturday, May 18.

The Alabama-bred artist sat down with music journalist Alli Patton at one of her former haunts, Birmingham bar Marty’s PM, to discuss her beginnings, her new music and how she’s spreading that “Alabama sound.” 

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Your full-length debut Alabama Sound is out now. It’s an album full of songs with a strong sense of place, rich with southern-style storytelling and fueled by pride and attitude. How do you think your Alabama upbringing informed this batch of songs? 

Honestly, I didn’t have to try that hard for it to be what it is, because that is what I am. I’m very proud of being from Alabama. I’m very proud of the music that’s coming out of here. And I’m just incredibly lucky that I get to be on this wave of musicians that are coming out of this scene. And I feel like we don’t get as much love. So stepping forward and naming the record Alabama Sound and trying to solidify something that is unapologetically Alabama, for me, was very important with the record. And I think we’ve done that with the record. I’m happy with it.

With this album, you’re kind of championing the Southern music landscape. You infuse a lot of those classic sounds – country, Southern rock and soul, the blues. Why is it important to you to showcase those sounds?  

We get lumped in a lot with like the Texas Red Dirt scene and then the country and even like the Kentucky Appalachian, like that area and that sound. I think Alabama music, at its core when you listen to it, it’s got this underlying blues-soul thing to it as well. It’s just a little bit of everything, and that’s what I love about it.

That’s what people ask. Even in the Uber on the way over here, he was like, “What kind of music do you play?” I was like, “I don’t really know how to tell you, but it’s Alabama music.”

You’re currently touring Alabama Sound across the country. The title track kind of says it all when you sing “Stuffed inside this old van / With a 5 piece rock n roll band / Out to spread around that Alabama sound.” How are you bringing Alabama to the rest of the country? 

I’m just doing it one tiny bar at a time. No, I’m very proud – like I said – to be from here. And I make sure that everybody knows that. I think our merch reflects that, and the way our live show is and even just our hospitality, like the way we treat everyone. When we get offstage, we go out and we meet everybody. We want to talk to everybody and make friends, first of all, and I think that’s a very Southern, Alabama thing. 

What have been some reactions from people you’ve encountered along the way? 

To my face most people like it. I hope. No, I think people are sometimes genuinely kind of taken aback because I don’t think that they’ve seen really too many females put themselves in this scene and try to do this. I think a lot of them are like, “Wow, that’s not what I was expecting,” or “Wow, that’s really cool and kind of reminiscent of these older 70s rock bands that I listen to with my dad.”

How does it feel to be back here at Marty’s PM? We are literally on the stage where you cut your teeth performing live? 

It was a little surreal when we were driving back in. I was like, “Man, I have so many memories in the parking lot, outside, in here.” Some of the best years of my life was hanging out here.

What’s coming back to you right now? 

Thinking about all the debauchery that happened right here, me trying to figure out who I was and what my sound was.

In releasing this album and then sharing it live with the country, what do you think you have learned about yourself and discovered about your home state along the way? 

I’ve definitely, with this record, solidified what my sound is, and that I want to continue on this path of what Alabama Sound has kind of set, like, I want that to be it. But I’ve also learned that like, almost everybody out in the country loves Alabama and loves what we have to offer too, which is really great. 

What do you hope listeners take away from your performances while you’re out on the road?

I just want people to pay attention to what Alabama has to offer. That’s my main message. I just want Alabama to have its shining moment because there’s a lot of rich history that’s happened here, musically. I think it’s our time.

 

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