Riley Downing’s ‘Start It Over’ Harnesses the Beauty and Power of Music [Exclusive Premiere]
Riley Downing loves to go record hunting. You're likely to find the singer-songwriter and Deslondes co-founder digging through crates at antique malls -- a "good pastime, cheap hobby," he tells The Boot -- in his free time.
Fellow vinyl collectors will find themselves in Downing's latest release, "Start It Over." The title track of his first-ever solo album, the song -- and its perfectly matched music video -- is premiering exclusively on The Boot.
"Saw you in the record store, caught my eye," Downing begins, over a twinkling, vintage melody, steadied by a basic drum beat but accented in various places by strings, tambourine and timpani. Throughout the song, he weaves a love story, both between two people and between a person and their record collection.
"It's about starting a lot of different things over," Downing explains: a relationship, a record, a career, even a new year. "But mostly," he adds, "it's just about records, to be honest."
Downing began writing "Start It Over" while on his way home from a record-shopping adventure. His personal record collection, he says, is vast; specifically, his collection of pre-World War II music, projects from the 1950s and '60s and some "oddball-sounding records" all influenced this track, co-produced by Andrija "Dre" Tokic and fellow Deslondes member John James "JJ" Tourville.
"Dre has been running [the Nashville recording studio] the Bomb Shelter for years, so he's got all kinds of fun gear laying around his studio and he's got all kinds of ideas to try out, so that's basically what we did," Downing recalls. "We took the bones of it, and Andrija just kind of added a huge amount of atmosphere to the space."
Filmed in part at the beloved Nashville record store Grimey's, Downing's "Start It Over" music video -- directed by Joshua Shoemaker -- finds the song's storyline playing out as the singer trades away his collection for an "ultra rare" LP. In between those scenes, Downing plays up a variety of genre tropes: the mulleted country singer, the forlorn pop star living large, the choreographed boy band member and the unleashed rocker.
"Start It Over" is the halfway mark -- the sixth of 12 songs -- on the album of the same name. Downing, based in Missouri, has been writing since the New Orleans-bred Deslondes went on hiatus following their 2017 album Hurry Home. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he, Dre and JJ began sending ideas to each other, originally planning for only a 45RPM single.
Downing knew he was in good hands, though: There's not an instrument that JJ can't "find a unique way to play," the artist shares, and Dre is the first producer that Downing ever worked with, a decade or so ago.
"It was amazing [to work with JJ as a producer] -- just because, you know, we're old friends and we've gone to a lot of places and seen a lot of the same things, and we're pretty comfortable working together," Downing says. "I've lived with John, and at one point I lived with Dre, so we're all pretty close."
Start It Over is due out on May 14 and available to pre-order and pre-save now. In June, Downing shares, he, JJ and their Deslondes bandmates will be in the studio to record a new record, with Dre as producer.
All of the New Albums Coming in 2021: