Travis Denning tips his hat to the nostalgic country music that shaped him as an artist in his latest release, “Strawberry Wine And A Cheap Six Pack.”
He glorifies the sound of the 2000s tunes that raised him to celebrate the precious feeling of love and the power of a good song to commemorate those special moments. The title itself honors Deana Carter’s iconic 1996 coming-of-age anthem, “Strawberry Wine,” which was inspired by her own lessons learned from teenage romance. Denning added a touch of his own generation and experiences with the second half of the title that brings him back to his days of growing up in Warner Robins, GA.
“For me, I think it’s very different than stuff I’ve done the past. Sonically, it just feels different. I have always been a lover of mid-2000s, really just 2000s Country music, you know, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, Miranda Lambert, Julie Roberts,” Denning told Country Now. “I’ve kind of always wanted to cut a song that reminded me of the way those songs were produced and what the musical parts were, what the guitar playing was, the energy, and I think this song totally encapsulates it. And of course, it has a ‘90s country song in the title, so it’s multi-decade.”
He added, “I love the lyrics. It’s like a happy nostalgia, you know? It’s one of those things where you’re not even worried about if the guy and the girl are still together or not. It’s just a guy looking back on memory that he connects with the buzz of a song and the buzz of a beer.”
Denning’s passionate vocals in “Strawberry Wine And A Cheap Six Pack” accentuates the innocence of young love through a windows-down melody that holds a small slice of heaven within the feel-good lyrics.
“A hand-me-down Tacoma, with a dent in the side / 10 miles over that county-line speed-limit sign / Black and mild smoke out on the wind / Hot July moon, I swear that I can hear you singin’ again / First taste of love No, I couldn’t get enough / Girl, that’s where I go, when I go back / Strawberry wine and a cheap six pack,” he sings in the upbeat chorus.
Written by Denning with Thomas Archer, Jerry Flowers and Paul DiGiovanni, and co-produced by Jeremy Stover and Paul DiGiovanni, the new song marks one of eight that Denning has already recorded for his next project.
Flowers is Keith Urban’s incredibly talented bass player, and getting to work with him on these songs has helped fuel Denning’s desire to lean a bit further into his own guitar skills.
“When I walked in there that day and I told Jerry, ‘we’re gonna write a song that sounds like a song you used to play 20 years ago.’ He’s like, ‘I’m in, let’s do it.’ He had that guitar lick and it immediately, there was an energy with the song that we all were, you know, kind of moving our shoulders to, and it just felt like something you wanted to hear played live here.”
This influence combined with his manager’s pep talk surrounding the direction of his next set of music was all the convincing Denning needed to start putting more focus into his solid guitar playing.
“I would say that I think I did make a very cautious decision to make that a priority,” he said, referring to what went through his mind after brainstorming with his manager. “She was like, ‘look, you got offered a record deal five years ago because they fell in love with your songwriting and your performance and your guitar player.’ She’s like, ‘you need to hunker down and focus on all that.’ So I’ve just completely committed myself to being the guitar guy. There will be a lot of guitar solos, there’s gonna be guitar licks and cool moments and stuff. And not that I ever was shy of that, but I’ve learned now that when I do lean into that hard, I feel like that’s when I’m my best self.”
The “After A Few” singer also teased that he is “so happy” with the next collection of work that he’s been spending so much time on in the studio. So far, he has not revealed how he plans to release the rest of these songs. They could come in the form of an album, or he could release them individually as singles, but no matter how they get out into the world, he’s confident that he will be super proud of the work he puts forward this year.
“I will not record a song unless I know that I’m okay with singing it for the rest of my life because that comes with it, and I’ve just been so happy with the music I’ve been writing. Some of it is obviously influenced by my life right now and, you know, I’m in the middle of planning a wedding, getting married in May,” he revealed. “I mean there’s a lot of that. There’s definitely some very rocking songs in there too that I can’t seem to ever get away from. So yeah, I think everybody can expect a little bit of everything.”
His passion for creating music and ongoing drive to pour his heart into his work proved to be successful for him in the last year, which included the release of his Might As Well Be Me EP. He received a whopping 87% growth in streaming volume in 2022. This new set of music will only propel him further into the arms of his loyal fans, who are eager to get their hands on the rest of the projects from his recent time in the studio.
Since the Georgia native is currently out on the road for a stint of headlining shows, he’s already gotten the chance to play his new song live a couple of times. He shared that while you never know how the audience will react to hearing an unreleased tune, the response has been “awesome.”
“People are just grabbing a hold of the energy, I think, which is exactly what I wanted,” he admitted.
As he mentioned, Denning will take a break from his busy schedule to celebrate his upcoming nuptials with his girlfriend of over three years, Madison Montgomery, in May. He revealed that the wedding planning is nearly wrapped up, and they are “very excited” to finally say “I Do.”
Once they’ve tied the knot, they will continue with the celebrations as they head off to their honeymoon in Switzerland. Ahead of their big trip, Denning says he is really looking forward to spending time with his soon-to-be wife and enjoying the experience of eating Swiss chocolate in the mountains.
Following his romantic getaway, Travis Denning will return to the road to play a slew of festivals throughout the summer. He is next scheduled to appear in Columbia, SC on March 18.