The official music video for Ruston Kelly’s new single, “Mockingbird,” premiered across Viacom platforms in an unprecedented partnership between CMT Music, MTVU and MTV Live.
Of the song and video, Kelly shares, “I wrote ‘Mockingbird’ in a Dominican hotel, on the edge of a bed, at like six in the morning. I needed a release from a cyclical pattern of a doomed relationship. The kind that leaves you with less than what you went in with. But, what directors Stephen Kinigopoulos and Alexa King reminded me with their proposed story about a single mother, is even though I write about my own personal situations, it’s also everyone’s story: the human condition, our connected plight in a mad world. Regardless of how it’s expressed, we all struggle through something with hope on the other side. That’s this song and that’s this video. That’s also why I fell in love working with them immediately.”
“Mockingbird” is from Kelly’s highly anticipated full-length debut album, Dying Star, which will be released September 7 on Rounder Records and is now available for pre-order HERE.
Already receiving widespread acclaim. the album’s first track, “Jericho,” recently premiered to critical praise. Stereogum calls it, “… a warmly melancholy acoustic ballad in the vein of A.A. Bondy, Justin Townes Earle, or early Ryan Adams. It’s about learning to stand up for what you believe in, which seems as relevant now as ever. Kelly manages the feat of keeping his rich arrangement relatively minimal, so that when background vocals or harmonica rise up in the mix they really stand out.” Additionally, Rolling Stone declares, “‘Jericho’ finds Kelly channelling the dark minimalism of Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska with a stark guitar-and-a-harmonica aesthetic,” while EARMILK states, “His unique voice contains this gentle raspiness that makes the vocal delivery of each track both haunting and comforting, while his complex guitar work adds to the overall catchy melodies.”
Dying Star was co-produced by Kelly and Jarrad K (Kate Nash, Weezer) and recorded at Sonic Ranch in El Paso, TX. It includes 14 songs written/co-written by Kelly and features Kelly (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, xylophone, harmonica), Jarrad K (12-string guitar, background vocals, electric guitar, Rhodes), Tim Kelly (pedal steel), Ian Fitchuk (piano, organ, drums, percussion), Eli Beaird (bass) and Kyle Ryan (banjo) as well as background vocals from Jon Green, Natalie Hemby, Kacey Musgraves, Kate York, Abby Sevigny and Joy Williams.
Of the album, Kelly comments, “A lot of my music is focused on suffering, or trying to understand the human condition through the lens of suffering…which probably sounds totally depressing, but it’s actually the flipside of that. Sometimes you’ve gotta go into that darkness—you need to get lost and then figure out for yourself how to find your way back. That’s the only way we can find pure joy, and really be thankful for the life we’ve been given.”
The release of Dying Star follows a breakout year for the Nashville-based artist, whose debut EP, Halloween, was released last April to widespread acclaim.
Born in South Carolina, Kelly started playing guitar under the guidance of his dad, Tim “TK” Kelly, a pedal steel guitarist who now performs in his band. Since his father worked for a paper mill and often changed job locations, Kelly grew up frequently moving, living everywhere from Alabama to Belgium, including time in Michigan—where the young one-time figure skater went to train with an Olympic coach in the hope of furthering his career, and where he first began writing songs. At 17, he moved to Nashville to live with his sister and went on to land a publishing deal with BMG Nashville, placing songs with several high-profile artists.
DYING STAR TRACK LIST:
1. Cover My Tracks (written by Ruston Kelly, Jarrad K)
2. Mockingbird (written by Ruston Kelly)
3. Son Of A Highway Daughter (written by Ruston Kelly)
4. Paratrooper’s Battle Cry (written by Ruston Kelly)
5. Faceplant (written by Ruston Kelly, Jarrad K, Brendan Benson)
6. Blackout (written by Ruston Kelly, Jarrad K, Joy Williams)
7. Big Brown Bus (written by Ruston Kelly, Jarrad K, Ricky Brantley)
8. Mercury (written by Ruston Kelly)
9. Anchors (written by Ruston Kelly, Jarrad K)
10. Just For The Record (written by Ruston Kelly, Jarrad K, Lucie Silvas)
11. Trying To Let Her (written by Ruston Kelly, Joe Leathers, Kyle Jacobs)
12. Jericho (written by Ruston Kelly, Joy Williams, Natalie Hemby)
13. Dying Star (written by Ruston Kelly, Caitlyn Smith, Rollie Gaalswyk)
14. Brightly Burst Into The Air (written by Ruston Kelly)