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Music Discovery: Gabe Lee, ‘Rusty’

WIth his 2020 single “Honky Tonk Hell,” Nashville artist Gabe Lee gave us one of the best, most hard-hitting country songs the 21st century has seen so far.

Now Lee is back with another great country single, “Rusty,” and a new album, The Hometown Kid.

“The message of journeying home and finding oneself on The Hometown Kid is meant to encompass everyone’s own experiences with where they come from,” Lee wrote in a recent Brooklyn Vegan article.

gabe lee the hometown kid album cover art

Listen to “Rusty” and you’ll see what he means. It’s a song about growing up, leaving town to find something new, and then finding yourself drawn right back in.

I’m rusty, I been runnin’ outta steam
Too many miles on these poor tires
And not enough gasoline

– Gabe Lee, “Rusty”

The journey’s not over, though. “Rusty” may at first feel like defeat, but the song has a restless energy and edge you feel in your bones. “Rusty” is a song from a guy who’s not standing still.

Lee’s music has a solid grounding in old-school country, which he proved on his previous album Honky Tonk Hell. But as he tells Brooklyn Vegan, he owes plenty of debt to more contemporary singers, too, including John Prine, Nikki Lane, Justin Townes Earle, and Jason Isbell (“I consider nearly every song its own masterclass”).

Gabe Lee photo

Lee is a sharp songwriter, with a country boy’s soul and bit of rock ‘n roll swagger. You can hear the miles, the heartache, the ups and downs in his voice, but this is also a guy who’s excited for what’s ahead. And so are we.

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