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Riley Downing
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New Artist of the Week: Riley Downing

By Ciara Bains

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“I might be old-fashioned, but I'm not old-timey. I never think in terms of a song having to be in ‘this’ genre or ‘that’ genre – I’m open to doing anything.”

It’s this kind of outlook that’s lent itself so successfully to singer-songwriter Riley Downing’s fruitful career. Throughout his work, both with the acclaimed New Orleans band The Deslondes and Tumbleweeds, Downing has become well-versed in the art of writing rich and evocative tunes that cruise effortlessly through the landscapes of country, blues, soul, rock and bluegrass.

Following a year spent back at home in Missouri, where he played “mostly for old friends, old dogs and whatever other critters were within earshot”, Downing decided to collaborate with his Deslondes band mate John James Tourville and producer Andrija Tokic, to release a standalone single. Call it a silver lining, but after months of lockdown spent apart, by the time the three finally did get together at Bomb Shelter Studios in Nashville, they’d racked up enough demos to justify a full album – and so Downing’s upcoming solo debut, Start It Over, was born.

Ahead of the record’s May 14th release, Holler are today premiering the latest single ‘Good To See Ya’. A blues-drenched jam that moseys along to the rhythm of Downing’s dusty Southern drawl, the track is an ode to staying hopeful and appreciating life’s happy moments, no matter how small they might be. Alongside the whiskey-soothed lyrical storytelling, there’s a warm, subtle grit to the instrumentation that you can’t help but be allured by. It evokes that same kind of cathartic release as cracking open a beer at the end of a long day – it’s easy, carefree and served with a laidback philosophy of trusting that everything’s gonna be just fine.

“A lot of my songs are nostalgic in one way or another for different times in my life”, says Downing. “'Good to See Ya' is kind of an ode to New Orleans, and is really just about having good times with old friends in old houses, playing music on the porch and around fires after not seeing a lot of them for a long time. The New Orleans drummer Tony Frickey, who’s my buddy and old band mate, always used to say, ‘Good to be seen’ when you’d say, ‘Good to see ya, Tony’. I just want to tip my hat to him, because he really is the true inspiration for this song”.

Looking to the release of Start It Over, Downing said, “I’m feeling very grateful and excited to be able to share all of these songs with everybody. Andrija really gave me the treatment with his wrecking crew at the Bomb Shelter, and it’s got me excited for the possibilities of what the future could be."

Start It Over is out on May 14th via New West Records. the single, 'Good To See Ya', is premiering today, right here at Holler.