JD McPherson is set to return with Undivided Heart & Soul on October 6th, 2017. The 11-song set was produced by McPherson and Dan Molad (Lucius, Tweedy), and was recorded at the Historic RCA Studio B™ in Nashville, TN. Undivided Heart & Soul is McPherson’s first studio album in three years and follows his critically acclaimed Let The Good Times Roll (2015), which Rolling Stone praised as “timeless, forward-thinking rock & roll.” The new, soul-baring album is a snapshot of his creative process bringing the record to life, a journey filled with fear and change, then boldness, and, eventually catharsis. The album features collaborations with Parker Millsap, Butch Walker, and Aaron Lee Tasjan. In addition to his longtime band members Doug Corcoran on guitar, Raynier Jacob Jacildo on keys, Jimmy Sutton on bass, and Jason Smay on drums, the album also features guest appearances by Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs, Greenhornes), Jess Wolfe & Holly Laessig of Lucius, and Nicole Atkins. NPR Music has premiered the video for the album’s first single, “Lucky Penny,” today, calling McPherson a “supreme rock reinventor” and stating, “There’s a certain fugitive feel to the sound [of] Undivided Heart & Soul – McPherson’s mastery of rock and soul fundamentals is beyond question, but his voice moves in wild ways on these songs, and the band exudes a new kind of risky energy. JD McPherson has said the process of making this album pushed him hard. That’s a good thing; he’s crossing some new lines on the highway.” The video depicts McPherson and his band performing the song at RCA Studio B and was directed by George Salisbury (Flaming Lips, Nathaniel Rateliff) and can be seen HERE. Undivided Heart & Soul will be available digitally, as well as compact disc, and vinyl and is now available for pre-order HERE.
Prior to writing and recording the new album, McPherson moved his family from their longtime home of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma to the burgeoning artist community of East Nashville, TN. His decision was based on opportunity and one he was reluctant to make, but notes the profound influence the city has had on his new work. “Up to this point, I thought I knew what I was doing with songwriting, that I don’t do this or that,” says McPherson. After collaborating with multiple artists in the scene, he began to experiment, exploring personal themes and injecting more of himself into his work (including a co-write on the album with his wife Mandy). Opening up his process was no easy task. “I was having nightmares every night, thinking, ‘Wow, they’re going to hate this.”
With a group of songs taking shape, McPherson and crew scheduled studio time to begin work on the album. After initial tracking began, it quickly became apparent that the sessions were not going to work, bringing his momentum to a halt. At the invitation of his friend and longtime supporter Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, who was also recording at the time, McPherson, Homme, and his Queens bandmate Dean Fertita jammed together over a weekend in Los Angeles. They played around with some songs, with Homme pushing McPherson outside of his comfort zone in a no-stakes environment. McPherson calls the getaway “the most fun I’ve had since I was 15 years old” and returned to Nashville with a clear head, internal filters successfully stifled, and ready to move forward with a new co-producer in Dan Molad (also the drummer for the band Lucius). “There’s a pretty broad gap in our tastes, what we do and what we’re into,” McPherson says of Molad. Where McPherson is as likely to lean on The Cramps as he is Irma Thomas for inspiration, Molad’s left-field production suggestions influenced a new perspective on his sound. “We ended up learning a lot from each other, and he did a lot of stuff I’d have never thought to do.”
The legendary RCA Studio B was fundamental to the creation of the “Nashville Sound,” and the ghosts of some of the greatest songs in history live within its walls: Elvis Presley’s “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” and Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” among them. Since the facility is a working museum by day and offers public tours, the entirety of McPherson’s workspace had to be reset at night: Loading in all equipment in the late afternoon after the final tour was completed and working through the night.
During the album closer, “Let’s Get Out Of Here While We’re Young,” McPherson sputters “We’ve worn out all the songs we’ve sung.” This is not a statement McPherson takes lightly. “This record was difficult for me to make, difficult to write, difficult to record. It took a lot for me to say that I can’t force these songs to be the way people are expecting.” McPherson says. Undivided Heart & Soul is statement record, one that asserts McPherson as he is now, battle-weary but stronger than ever.
JD McPherson has also announced his initial North American tour dates in support of Undivided Heart & Soul, launching tonight, August 8, in Wichita, Kansas and continuing throughout the fall with a performance in his new hometown of East Nashville on November 18th. Please see all dates below (with more to be announced).