Written by Blackberry Smoke singer Charlie Starr and Johnson, “Lonesome for a Livin’” is traditional country weeper, accented by pedal steel and crisp Telecaster. “I put quite a few tears into quite a few beers,” Starr sings in the first verse, teeing up a chorus that equates being blue with one’s profession. “You could say I was lonesome for a livin’/and heartache was my claim to fame.” Johnson steps in for his verse, delivering lines about drinking, cheating, lying, and, ultimately, redemption in his gruff baritone.
“We were talking after a show, and he said, ‘Hey, let’s do something else,’” Starr says in a statement. “I said, ‘I have this song, it’s really a honky-tonk song. And he said, ‘Send it to me,’ and I did, and he dug it.” And so he came down to the studio and just killed it. He has a voice like no other.”
Released on Friday, You Hear Georgia pays tribute to Blackberry Smoke’s home state and is the follow-up to 2018’s Find a Light. It’s also the group’s first collaboration with producer Dave Cobb, a fellow Georgian. The band play an acoustic show in Nashville on Friday night, and have a string of concerts lined up throughout the summer.
Johnson, meanwhile, recently dismissed reports that he had a new album recorded. “No, I don’t have an album coming out,” he told Rolling Stone. “I only want to put out an album if it’s going to be good, if it’s going to be something that I want to go out and play every night. And if I’ve got those songs, then I have no reason not to put it out. But in the absence of that, I don’t see why I would.”