Premiere: Caleb Elliott Shares New Single “Weed, Wine & Time”

Feb 20, 2023

By Caleb Campbell

Indie folk singer/songwriter Caleb Elliott initially made his career as a side-man, working with a cavalcade of artists and becoming one of the go-to Muscle Shoals cellists. Elliott took center stage for the first time in 2019 with his full-length debut, Forever to Fade, and later this year he’s set to return with his sophomore effort, Weed, Wine & Time, due out on April 14th.

The record laces together threads of alt-country, soul, and folk, painting with a broad brush of emotions and pastoral acoustics. As the record winds on, portraits emerge of hurt and healing, each traced with a sense of warm and sincere emotion. In January, Elliott shared the first teaser from the album, “Isolation,” a duet between him and AJ Haynes of Seratones, and today he’s back with the record’s title track, premiering with Under the Radar.

In contrast to the winding and insular feel of “Isolation,” “Weed, Wine & Time” leans in a more breezy direction, with charming idiosyncratic rhythms and chiming guitar lines. Elliott’s honeyed vocals rest upon an intricate web of guitars, drums, and flickering melodies, settling gently into the band’s effortless sun-lit groove. It’s the sort of song that is seemingly tailor-made for the early days of spring, when the cold and dark finally give way to warm comforts. Elliott sings, “Give me weed and wine and time/I will surely be just fine/Give me weed and wine and time/Pretty soon I’ll change my mind.”

Elliott says of the track, “I remember chuckling to myself the whole way through writing this song. It was so much fun to write, but I didn’t know if it would have a place on this record. When I showed it to [co-producer] Ben [Tanner] and the band, they all loved it and did such an outstanding job breathing life into it, now it’s the title track of the album and I couldn’t be prouder of it.”

Check out the song and video below. Weed, Wind & Time is out April 14th. You can also read our Q&A with Elliott on the song and record below.

You first got your start as a cellist and session player. When did you make the jump to recording your own material and how did those beginnings shape your creative process?

Working with other musicians and songwriters in the studio as a cellist has been extremely rewarding for me in several ways. Not only have I met some of my best friends in the studio working on projects over the years, but I’ve also learned a lot working with different people. There’s no doubt that finding my way into session work has been a huge stroke of luck. I’ve been fortunate to work with some truly brilliant folks on some incredible projects. These experiences have changed the way I think about writing and recording. A friend once told me, “if you want to be a better songwriter, hang out with other songwriters”. When I moved to the Shoals in 2014 I leaned into the opportunity to be a side-man and a session musician. Being around established artists with careers and catalogs of songs made me realize how much I had to learn about everything. I kept writing, but just didn’t share my songs with many people at the time. It wasn’t until 2016 when my side-man touring gig ended, that I decided to make a record of my own. I asked some of my favorite folks I’d worked with on other projects if they’d want to make a record of songs I’d put together. Thankfully they were all into it and we started recording what became Forever to Fade.

What are some of the experiences that shaped your new record, Weed, Wine & Time?

When Forever to Fade came out I got the chance to tour playing my own songs for the first time. Before then I’d only toured as a side-man. Taking those songs on the road gave a lot of perspective. I started to wish I had a few more rockers in the set, and a few more songs that had a more light-hearted or uplifting message. These ideas were certainly in mind when writing Weed, Wine & Time.

What influences did you find yourself drawing on when writing Weed, Wine & Time?

I’ve been listening to so much music these last few years. I really love Twain, Cut Worms, Whitney, Michael Kiwanuka, Carl Broemel and Big Thief, to name a few. I also continue to comb through the past to find music I love. I’ve listened to a lot of Nick Drake, but particularly got into the Bryter Layter. No telling how many times I’ve listened to Mule Variations by Tom Waits the last few years. My girlfriend ordered me a vinyl copy of it, and when it came in she’d accidentally ordered the CD. It worked out great though, because I was able to obsessively listen to it on repeat in my car for a few months. I also love all the Daptones stuff. Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones, Antibalas, Thee Sacred Souls, Budos Band…they all rule. My drummer, Jeremy Gibson, showed me a band called Floating Action a few years back. I love those recordings.

Some of the artists I’ve been fortunate to work with either touring as a support act or recording as a session musician have undoubtedly been influential. There’s a weird sort of osmosis that I think happens when you work with different folks, on both a conscious and unconscious level. When you see someone be fearless and bold in their decisions with writing, recording and performing, it’s hard not to be inspired by that. I got to see Gaz Coombes perform solo and captivate audiences for two weeks with grace, style and moxie. Opening for Nicole Atkins for a month in Europe was an incredible and inspiring experience. She brought the house down every night.

What do you feel sets Weed, Wine & Time apart from your debut, Forever to Fade?

“Weed, Wine & Time” feels like a natural progression and a positive step forward from the last record. There are some stylistic differences in this album for sure. There were no real rockers on the last album, but this one has a few that really cut loose. There were no strictly acoustic songs on the last album either, songs without a full band, this one has two. On the songwriting front, I like to think there are a few songs that are perhaps more accessible than a lot of the last album. Songs with a clear message that people can relate to without having to dig for it quite as hard. There is also a co-write on this record, which is a first for me. My friend AJ Haynes and I wrote a duet called “Isolation” which I am really proud of. I think the experience of the first record gave me an ounce of confidence I didn’t have before. I’m hopeful that comes through in a positive way.

What drew you to “Weed, Wine & Time” as the album’s title track?

I thought long and hard about it. I made lists of options and consulted with pals. It came down to wanting a title that wasn’t too self-serious. I felt like Weed, Wine & Time was more light-hearted than most of the other options I came up with. I suppose I’m a little wary of getting pigeon-holed as the dark, brooding, super serious singer-songwriter type. I’m fine having one foot in that world and one foot somewhere else.

“Weed, Wine & Time” hits on a bit of a different stylistic vibe than the rest of the record. What was the writing process like and what were you hoping to evoke with the track?

To be completely honest, I remember chuckling to myself when I was writing this song. I didn’t know if it would have a place on this new record. It was just a really fun song to write and the rhythm was something I’d just stumbled upon. I remember when I sent the demo to the band I said, “check out this little weirdo”. But then they were really into it. Heath, the guitar player, sent back the demo with a guitar part overdubbed on it. It brought the song to life in a really cool way. At that point, I started to get excited about recording it. It’s a song about decompressing. It’s about smokin, drinkin and thinkin.

Is there a story behind the new video? What did its creative process look like?

My friend Lee Taylor is a super-talented videographer. When I sent him the song he had the idea of doing a sort of home video style shoot with friends hanging at the creek, tubing and cooking a BBQ. It was a great idea, and fit the vibe of the song great. The only problem is that it was late October, and the water was getting pretty cold. You might not be able to tell, but my friends who came out and helped us shoot this video are some troopers. We got in that cold water together and ended up having a good ole time. Big thanks to them, and to Lee for his creative genius.

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