Acclaimed Americana singer-songwriter Riley Etheridge Jr. is premiering his brand-new song “Like a Fool” exclusively for readers of The Boot.

"Like a Fool" is the “centerpiece” of an eight-song story cycle that takes a hard look at the life of an aging southern beauty queen whose life hasn’t quite gone like she planned: "The eight songs represent the varied perspectives of our heroine and other characters who shaped her journey of three decades,” Etheridge tells The Boot. The song -- which opens the album because "it is the most literal representation of the timeline" -- tackles a subject that’s familiar to pretty much everyone: divorce, though not Etheridge’s own.

“My inspiration was a dear friend putting her life back together post-divorce,” he explains. “This was the first song I wrote for the project; it came together quickly. The drives and the locations (even the weather) referenced were all based on real events -- which always seem easier to me to represent versus more abstract concepts.”

Born in South Carolina, Etheridge played with bands in Baton Rouge, La., for more than 20 years before moving to New York City; he would later tour as a support act for Leon Russell and collaborate with Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins. “Like a Fool” is the lead track from Secrets, Hope & Waiting, Etheridge’s fifth studio album and the follow-up project to 2014’s The Straight and Narrow Way, released on Rock Ridge Music. The artist has some assurance that the track is going to strike a chord after recording an acoustic version of it for The Boot’s Greenroom Sessions last year and testing it out on the road.

“We have played it live several times since,” he says. “The lyric 'Find her voice, lift her chin, and she’ll face love again / Like a fool' seems to connect.”

Secrets, Hope & Waiting is set for release on Sept. 9.

Listen to Riley Etheridge Jr.'s "Like a Fool"