Dillon Carmichael Channels His Kentucky Upbringing and Love for ’90s Country On Sophomore Album, ‘Son Of A’

Dillon Carmichael; Photo by Alex Berger
Dillon Carmichael; Photo by Alex Berger
Dillon Carmichael; Photo by Alex Berger
"I'm so proud of these songs," Carmichael says.

On Dillon Carmichael‘s just-released sophomore album, Son Of A, the singer/songwriter reflects on his upbringing in rural Kentucky and draws inspiration from the ’90s country sound he grew up on. This 14-track project follows his 2018 debut album, Hell On An Angel.

“Where I’m from, is who I am,” Carmichael proclaims. “That’s kind of the theme of the record, so all those things are nostalgic, kind of how you grow up and the most impressionable years of your life. That’s just what’s important to me and I think it’s important to a lot of people.”

Dillon Carmichael - Son Of A
Dillon Carmichael – Son Of A

Through several tracks on this record, such as “Hose Water” and “Family Tree,” Carmichael reminisced on memories that many other people could also relate to. This includes spending the hot summer days outside in the yard, with the hose water ready to cool you down at any moment.  Fans hear about this core memory from Carmichael’s childhood on the track “Hose Water.”

“With ‘Hose Water,’ one thing is that I feel like it’s not just a rural thing, I feel like people that grew up at that time, everyone knows what it’s like to drink hose water as a kid,” he tells Country Now. “It’s just got a certain taste to it. If I went out there right now and took a sip of the hose, I would immediately go back to being a kid. Those special connections are what I’m all about, I just love it and I cannot get enough of it. Of course, small town-type themes, it’s been in country music for a while now, but I think I put my own touch on those ideas on this record.”

The title track, “Son Of A, is what Carmichael calls the “gem of the record.” Although this song is personal to him, as it pays tribute to his loved ones who raised him, and anyone who listens to it could relate the heartfelt words to the special people in their lives. 

“I’m a family guy and I love my mom and dad and I really wanted to honor them on this record in a way that I’ve never done before,” he explains. “The song just turned out so special. I played it live a few times and to see the reaction that people are having and the way it’s touching people’s lives out there, it’s really just the reason I wanted to be a songwriter. So I wanted to kind of feature that, make it the title of the record. I think that song is possibly the song that I will be most known for when it’s all said and done, because I just really believe it’s everything I’ve ever wanted to be as a songwriter. So that’s kind of the special gem of the record for me.”

The rowdy track “Pickin’ Up Girls” features Carmichael’s friends, The Cadillac Three. These artists first connected during a show in 2019 when Carmichael celebrated his birthday with the band, leading to an instant friendship. According to Carmichael, this collaboration is definitely “long overdue.”

“I’m so proud of it, it’s a fun song, it just gets you dancin’…at the end of the song it’s a little plot twist, ‘picking up girls’ meaning the wife and the kids. So it’s just a funny song and I enjoyed the whole process.” 

Carmichael shared his foolproof creative process behind this single with Country Now

“Yeah, so Jaren [Johnston] was a part of writing that, James McNair was on that as well. It was one of the many ideas I came up with in the shower, for whatever reason that’s where I get inspired,” Carmichael says. “I thought it was a line in a song, but I didn’t think it was a title. For some reason, in my head, it popped, ‘pickin’ up girls in a hand-me-down Ford.’ I went to them, said I got a line for something and they said, ‘man that ‘ain’t a line, that’s a title.’ So we wrote it, and we wrote fast. We wrote two songs that day, but ‘Pickin’ Up Girls’ was the one that made it through.”

Half the tracks on this record were co-written by Carmichael, and seven were produced by his good friend, Jon Pardi and Ryan Gore. He and Pardi met when he first moved to Nashville, and after finally gaining some extra down time, the two decided to start creating music together. The outcome is something Carmichael can be extremely proud of. 

“We didn’t really have a plan necessarily, we didn’t know it was going to turn into this massive record like it did, but it was great, it was undeniable, and we knew we had to put it out. He is a wonderful producer; he is a well-rounded music man. He’s a good producer, he knows good songs, he’s a great singer, and he gets the branding, he gets all of it. He was a wonderful person to work with.”

With the album out now for everyone to hear, the Kentucky native says he’s “ecstatic.” 

“I’m so proud of these songs, I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished with this,” he shares. “I mean, every album you have to be excited about it and that’s just the truth of the matter, but this album, I don’t have to try and be excited about it. Not that I even have in the past, but I’m really just so excited about this record. It’s like all of these years of trying to accomplish this kind of masterpiece and I feel like we did it this time.” 

In celebration of the album release, the rising star will head back home to Kentucky for a concert at the Manchester Music Hall in Lexington. For additional details on Carmichael’s upcoming tour dates, click HERE