Adam Shoenfeld will be the first to admit that he has had a dream career. As a member of Tim McGraw’s touring band for the last nine years, the sought after Nashville guitarist has experienced more than most musicians could ever hope for. He played guitar on the Big & Rich classic “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” and co-wrote the Fail Hill hit “Mississippi Girl” with John Rich, but with his latest project, the solo album All the Birds Sing (out January 28th via Lozen Entertainment Group/Copperline), he’s going all in on himself.
The latest single, “The Sky is Falling Down,” is available now.
I recently sat down with Shoenfeld to discuss finding the pieces to his personal puzzle, the importance of a hug, and why Peter Frampton praised his parents.
Americana Highways: Your new album, All the Birds Sing, is due January 28. With that record basically kicking off 2022, what are you hoping the New Year holds for you both creatively and personally?
Adam Shoenfeld: I’m really looking forward to playing this music live for people, whether it’s just me and a guitar, or with a band this next year. I also hope that maybe I can hit a club or two in some of the cities that we may travel to with McGraw. I’m already writing for the next album too.
AH: Country music has shaped your career but it hasn’t defined it. How do you view All the Birds Sing as a chapter in that book of music?
AS: I actually feel like it’s the first chapter of a new book. Although I’ve been a part of several band projects over the last five years, this is the first time all of the planets have aligned for me to put my own name on my own songs… put my heart on my sleeve even more than with the other projects, no safety nets. I also feel like making this record has made me better at playing guitar or producing for other artists too, so it’s a win-win.
AH: What I enjoyed most about the album was how different it is track-to-track, and yet, the songs all fit together like a larger puzzle. I even felt I heard a little Guns N’ Roses on “Gettin’ To Me.” When you were crafting the songs that make up the album, did you set out with a creative clean slate in mind that just let you venture wherever you wanted to musically?
AS: I just kept writing what was coming out of my head and heart until I had all the pieces of the puzzle. There were songs that didn’t fit. Actually, the song that started me down the path of making a full album didn’t even make the cut!
I’ve been inspired by everything from GnR to Tom Petty, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Miles Davis… too many to keep going. Ironically, not having songs that all felt like the same genre to me, was something that made me shy away from doing a solo record in the past, but I think I figured it out here!
AH: Family inspired a lot of the songs found on All the Birds Sing. Beyond the fans who will discover it when it releases in a few months, how important was it to you to have them – your family – listen to the final product? What was that experience like?
AS: I fell in love with music because of how it connects to me, and in turn I want to make that same connection to others, especially my family. I think songs, at first, are gifts for the writer and then, possibly more importantly, gifts for the listener. I think this world needs to remember how important a hug, a “Thank you,” a smile, or an “I love you” can be. I got all of those things from my family.
I’m glad my family will still have me. (Laughter)
AH: What would someone learn about you today in sitting down to listen to All the Birds Sing front to back?
AS: How much love I’m capable of, and how I’m unafraid to show it. I hope people that listen can find that in themselves, or maybe even feel appreciated when they listen to these songs.
AH: Your parents bought you your first guitar at 5 years old after you were performing with an invisible air-guitar while listening to Frampton Comes Alive. How inspired are you to think that your music and this album could do the same for a 5 year old just discovering music today? Is that part of the motivation in putting music out into the world?
AS: I actually got to tell Mr. Frampton that story! He said something like, “Sounds like your parents were great people.” (Laughter)
My first motivation is that I can’t stop wanting to write songs, and that connection; when you know that the song your singing has made an impact on somebody… circle complete… is a pretty magic feeling. If one little kid gets that motivation from my songs, I’ve succeeded.
AH: What would that 5-year-old Adam think of All the Birds Sing if he had a chance to hear it back when Frampton Comes Alive came alive in his brain?
AS: “Where’s the audience?” (Laughter) I connected a lot to the sound of the audience on that record as well. I sincerely hope that I’d like myself. Seriously though, this collection of songs definitely draws from my earliest influences, I think I would like it!
AH: You have made a career out of playing guitar and touring with other artists. How have those experiences shaped the singer-songwriter side of you?
AS: Well, it’s a continuation of what got me started. The connection of that audience still drives me. I’m there playing guitar, but half the time I can’t help but wish that I was the one saying something with my voice. I guess it keeps me charged. Also, the motion of traveling… I can’t explain it, but as soon as those bus wheels roll, the plane takes off, or I get to that hotel, I’ve GOT to write something!
AH: We are just a few months away from ringing in 2022. Do you have any New Year’s resolutions that you’re going to put into effect and if so, how do you plan on sticking to them?
AS: For the first time in my life, I’m going to bet on myself.
AH: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
AS: I’m happy with where I am, but I would have done this sooner for sure. I’ve had, and hope to continue, a dream career, but I think if I had been able to get behind a collection of songs like this 10 years ago, I’d be even happier. I might not have any money, but I’d be happy knowing I tried to do something with it!
That being said, the journey has been awesome!
For more information on Adam Shoenfeld, visit www.adamshoenfeld.com.