Billy Strings Offers ‘Renewal’ With His Third Studio Album, Due Out in September
After dropping several hints this year that new music could be on the way, Billy Strings is officially making his move: His third studio project, following the Grammy Award-winning Home, is due out on Sept. 24. The album is titled Renewal.
Featuring a hefty 16 tracks, Renewal will feature Strings' mainstay bandmates Billy Failing (banjo, piano, backing vocals), Royal Masat (bass, backing vocals) and Jarrod Walker (mandolin, guitar, backing vocals). But, according to Music Row, it'll also include musicians Spencer Cullum (on pedal steel), John Mailander (violin) and Grant Millikem (synth). Some of those newer sounds may be a little unorthodox for a bluegrass project, but that doesn't phase Strings one bit, he says.
"A lot of people call us a bluegrass band and I don't even know if that's what we are anymore. You've got to let the song do its thing," he notes. "So that's what I try to do -- write songs and let them come out however they do. I listen to it now and it's emotional. I've always doubted myself, and I still do, but this album makes me think, 'Hey, you're doing alright, kid. You just need to keep going.'"
Indeed, Strings has experimented with genre more than once in recent months. Back in June, he dropped "Wargasm," a collaboration with rapper RMR. Prior to that, he had a duet with Luke Combs called "The Great Divide."
But according to the tracklist of Renewal, neither of those songs will be a part of Strings' upcoming project. What will be on the collection, though, is "Fire Line," its 14th track, which the singer shared as the first single off the album on Friday (July 30).
Strings (whose given name is William Apostle) co-wrote "Fire Line" with his bandmates Failing, Masat and Walker. The song's first verse begins, "It's a careless wind that carries me / Across the great divide," replicating the title of his Combs collaboration; whether "Fire Line" is a sister song to "The Great Divide" or if the similarity can be chalked up to coincidence is not yet clear.
Though Strings only recently shared official confirmation details about his new album with fans, it's clear that he's been thinking about this project for many months. Back in March, in the press room at the Grammy Awards -- shortly after Home won Best Bluegrass Album -- Strings half-jokingly told The Boot and other media that he was being particularly careful about what kind of energy he was manifesting as he went about creating his next record. That's because, in some ways, Home -- which came out in September of 2019 -- eerily foreshadowed the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's called Home, and a lot of us were stuck at home all year," he explained, also noting a couple of "lyrical details" that, in hindsight, have taken on extra meaning: "The song "Watch It Fall" is, to me, sort of eerie, because everything sort of fell. And I have this song "Away From the Mire," and there's this line, 'Spring lied to us this year.' And, you know, it was kind of that spring, last March, that all our plans fell through," he added.
During that press event, Strings also tentatively suggested the title that would ultimately go on to become his next album's name. "I hope the next album will be called Renewal or something!" the singer said. "As far as not being stuck at home. Let's get back to being happy and having fun."
In 2021, Strings and his fans are doing just that. He's currently in the midst of a headlining tour, and he's also planning to make his debut on PBS' iconic Austin City Limits series in 2021. As he gears up for his next album's release, he also shared the cover art on social media. The album, which will arrive on Rounder Records, is currently available to preorder.
Billy Strings, Renewal Tracklist:
1. "Know It All"
3. "Love and Regret"
4. "Heartbeat of America"
5. "In the Morning Light"
6. "This Old World"
7. "Show Me the Door"
9. "Red Daisy"
10. "The Fire on My Tongue"
11. "Nothing’s Working"
12. "Hide and Seek"
13. "Ice Bridges"
14. "Fire Line"
15. "Running the Route"
Who is Billy Strings? 5 Things You Need to Know: