Solo artist. Frontman. Behind-the-scenes songwriter. For more than a decade, Adam Hood has left his mark onstage and in the writing room, carving out a southern sound that mixes soul, country, and American roots music into the same package.
It's a sound that began shape in Opelika, Alabama. Raised by working-class parents, Hood started playing hometown shows as a 16 year-old, landing a weekly residency at a local restaurant. He'd perform there every Friday and Saturday night, filling his set list with songs by John Hiatt, Steve Warner, Hank Williams Jr, and Vince Gill. As the years progressed, the gigs continued — not only in Alabama, but across the entire country, where Hood still plays around 100 shows annually.
These days, though, he's no longer putting his own stamp on the songs of chart-topping country stars. Instead, many of those acts are playing his music.
Little Big Town, Miranda Lambert, Anderson East, Frankie Ballard, Josh Abbott Band, Lee Ann Womack, and Brent Cobb are among the dozens of artists who've recorded Hood's songs. An in- demand songwriter, he signed a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Nashville and producer Dave Cobb’s Low Country Sound in 2016, while still maintaining a busy schedule of tour dates in support of his third solo release, Welcome to the Big World. Two years later, he continues the balancing act with his newest album, Somewhere in Between.
A showcase for both his frontman abilities and songwriting chops, Somewhere in Between also shines a light on Hood's strength as a live act. He recorded most of the album live at Nashville's Sound Emporium Studios over two quick days. Teaming up with producer Oran Thornton (Angaleena Presley's Wrangled, Miranda Lambert's Revolution) along the way, their goal was to create something that reflected the raw, real sound of his concerts, where overdubs and unlimited takes are never an option. Also joining Hood in the studio were bassist Lex Price, guitarist and co-writing partner Pat McLaughlin, and drummer Jerry Roe, all of whom captured their parts in a handful of live performances. Hood tracked his vocals at the same time. Stripped free of studio trickery and lushly layered arrangements, Somewhere in Between is an honest, story-driven record — the sort of album that relies on craft, not gloss, to pack its punch.
It's also an album that finds Hood telling his own story. A dedicated family man, he wrote "Locomotive" after watching his young daughter develop her motor skills while playing with a set of blocks. A road warrior, he penned songs like "Downturn" about a life filled with wanderlust and long drives from gig to gig. A native Alabaman who still lives in the Yellowhammer State, he celebrates America's rural pockets with "Keeping Me Here" and "Real Small Town," two songs that fill their verses with images of main streets, open landscapes, hard times, and good people.
Somewhere in Between may be autobiographical but there's a universal appeal to this music. A true blue-collar songwriter, Hood shines a light on the everyday experiences — from family to friends to the thrill of Friday nights — that we all appreciate. It's extraordinary music about ordinary lives, performed with conviction by a man who continues to balance a critically acclaimed solo career with his commercial successes as a songwriter.
"It's southern music," he says, grouping Somewhere in Between’s wide range of music under an appropriate banner. "That's what it represents: the soulful side of southern music, the country side of southern music, the genuineness of southern culture, and the way I grew up. One of the t-shirts I sell at every show simply says ‘Southern songs’ and that's a good summary of what I do. It's what I've always done."
The son of L.E. White, a Grammy Award winning Singer/Songwriter/Musician who created Twitty Bird Publishing with famed country legend Conway Twitty, Michael White began writing songs and singing demos at an early age. In 1992, he released his first album, Familiar Ground, on Warner Brothers/Reprise Records. Michael toured and charted several singles as a recording artist from 1992-1995.
After leaving Warner/Reprise, Michael’s songwriting career took off. Since then, he’s had over 100 songs recorded by artists such as Shania Twain, Brooks and Dunn, Alan Jackson, George Strait, Billy Currington, Kenny Chesney, Mark Wills, Trace Adkins, Pitbull, Sammy Kershaw, Hank Williams Jr., Blake Shelton, John Anderson, Billy Ray Cyrus and many others. Michael has received three ASCAP Airplay Awards for the #1 song “The Baby” by Blake Shelton, “Kiss You In The Morning” by Michael Ray and the Top 10 “Loving Every Minute” by Mark Wills.”
Wesley Dean didn’t need to leave Australia. For more than a dozen years, he’d been one of the continent’s best-known artists, armed with a larger-than-life voice that catapulted songs like “You” to the top of the Australian charts. Even so, the Adelaide native found himself boarding an American-bound plane in early 2021, his wife and two sons at his side, the entire family heading toward their new home in Nashville.
The journey begins...
Dean had visited Nashville a decade earlier, not long after winning the sixth season of Australian Idol. The show had launched him to stardom, but it was the time he'd already spent honing his craft — the Motown songs he sang during childhood; the three-hour shows he played in Sydney pubs as a teenager; the critically-acclaimed band, Tambalane, he formed with Silverchair's Ben Gillies at 21 years old — that readied him for the spotlight. Inspired to blur the lines between roots-rock, soul, and folk with his solo career, he made that initial trip to Nashville in search of likeminded collaborators. Years later, he returned to Nashville looking for something else: a new beginning.
"I was chasing down a life-long dream," Dean says, who'd spent the immediate years before his American migration living in a sea shanty town on the Sunshine Coast, quietly reevaluating his priorities. The Sunshine Coast's leisurely pace had been a godsend, allowing Dean a break from the career he'd been relentlessly pursuing since boyhood. He briefly stepped away from music during that time… and when he returned to it, he did so on his own terms, writing songs that mixed heartland hooks with heart-baring honesty. Starting with "Never Goin' Back to the Darkside" and "Where Only You and I Remain," a new album began taking shape, one whose creation would soon take Dean halfway across the world.
With its mix of authentic Americana and modern-day roots music, unknown is an album about departures and arrivals. These 14 songs tell the autobiographical story of Dean's life-changing relocation, bookended by the cathartic "Leave Adelaide Alone" — which opens the record with ringing electric guitars, accordion, and a meteoric chorus — and the album-closing title track, a soulful piano ballad that unfolds like a conversation between Dean and the loved ones he's left behind. Recorded in his newly-adopted hometown of Nashville and written on both sides of his transpacific flight, unknown marks the rebirth of an artist who's scaled the long ladder of success, enjoyed the view from the top, and taken a much-needed breather… only to rededicate himself to the climb all over again.
For Wesley Dean, the journey began when he was 8 years old. A gifted vocalist, he honed his chops by singing along to Jackson 5 classics like "I'll Be There" and "Mama's Pearl" at a young age, then became a fixture on Sydney's barroom stages as, Wes Carr, before he could legally drink. Appearing on Australian Idol made Carr a household name across the continent, and he released two gold-certified singles in the wake of his first-place finish, along with a studio album that peaked at Number 2 in his homeland. He later reclaimed his independence after spending multiple years on a major label's roster, continuing to play some of Australia's biggest stages — from Sydney Opera House to Melbourne's Palais Theatre — along the way.
After a decade, the rigors of the road grew wearisome for the songwriter, who'd become a family man since his full-length debut blazed its path up the charts. It was time for a change of scenery. "We moved to the Sunshine Coast in pursuit of a quieter, simpler life," he says. "We had no plan and not a lot of money, but those five years turned out to be the greatest times of our lives. There were new friends and palm trees and barbecues every Saturday. The wine was flowing. It was like semi-retirement, in a way."
Dean began spending less time on tour and more time with his family. He stopped writing as often. Music was once his north star, but now it was something distant, its light waning by the day. Yet even as he questioned his career path, he found himself unable to shake the feeling that there was more work to be done. Staying behind while his wife and children left town for a 10-day vacation, Dean found himself alone in the family's beach house, acoustic guitar in hand, ready to see if the muse would still answer when he knocked. It did. What followed was the most fruitful songwriting period of his career. For 10 days, Dean threw himself into the creative process, finishing 20 songs before his family returned. The experience helped restore his creative drive and open his musical floodgates once again, and when the time came for another change of scenery, Dean steered the family toward Nashville.
unknown nods to that personal history, but this is an album about the present, not the past. Not long after landing in Tennessee, Dean got back to work, writing more songs about regrets, big risks, and fresh starts. He also reconnected with some of the collaborators he'd met during his first trip to Tennessee, including engineer Justin Cortelyou, and forged partnerships with new friends like co-writer Fred Wilhelm. They worked fast, capturing every spark of inspiration and fanning the flames into something big and bright. Together, the musicians layered piano-driven tracks like "That's Why I'm Here" with organ and light percussion, added swirls of atmospheric guitar to "Never Thought Of You," and channeled heartland heroes like Tom Petty on the driving, determined "Hello, I Love You, Goodbye."
"I'd write a song and immediately record it," Dean remembers of those inspired months, which mirrored the creative growth spurt he'd experienced on the Sunshine Coast. "We encapsulated this big feeling of traveling overseas from Australia to America, arriving in our new home, and finding our way forward."
There were still obstacles to overcome. When a business relationship went south, Dean found himself without the American support system he'd originally been promised. Meanwhile, the Australian borders remained closed, meaning he couldn't return home even if he'd wanted to. Choosing purpose over panic, he redoubled his commitment to Nashville and wrote "Gaslighter," an empowered track that's more anthemic than angry. "It was like someone was putting me through a test, just to make sure I was really serious about doing this," he says. "Out of all these negatives came some amazing blessings. Life is made up of those blessings. The beauty is, they reveal themselves in every way as we step further into the unknown."
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