Sadler Vaden, ‘Golden Child’ [Exclusive Premiere]
Over the last several years, Sadler Vaden has become known as quite the axeman as an inimitable member of Jason Isbell's 400 Unit. What many fans may not realize, though, is that Vaden is also quite the wordsmith and producer, and is just as comfortable fronting a band as he is playing sideman.
"This is what I've been doing, this is where it started," Vaden tells The Boot. "I've been fronting my own bands ever since high school. I'm used to putting my stuff out there and getting it ripped to shreds or enjoyed or whatever. That doesn't bother me. Music is just a part of me."
As the music world eagerly awaits the anticipated follow-up to Isbell and the 400 Unit's 2017 Grammy Awards-winning The Nashville Sound, Vaden has kept busy writing, recording and producing his sophomore solo LP, Anybody Out There?, due out on March 6 on Thirty Tigers. Ahead of its release, Vaden is partnering with The Boot to share a sneak preview of the album with the brand-new track, "Golden Child," which readers can hear below.
With an instantly catchy guitar riff opening things, Vaden sets the stage for a classic, summery rock 'n' roll tune. "That riff is so dumb," Vaden says with a chuckle in his voice. "It's just so dumb, but "Rocky Mountain Way" is dumb, too, you know? I was just practicing different inversions of the C chord on the guitar, so I started down there, then I came up here, and then I went up there. That's the riff."
Though the song has a tropical sort of feel to it, the lyrics are a bit more pointed: Vaden's narrator assumes the position of someone with a lot of privilege who is trying to prove he may not be the golden child many think he is.
"I started with the line 'I've been the one since I was born,'" he recalls. "I don't know where it came from, but with a line like that, you can go a bunch of different places. I chose to write about this person who's been very privileged, who's had that kind of upbringing, but is trying to exist as a person who wants you to know he or she doesn't have everything. They're trying to fit in with people who didn't grow up with all of these things. It's like the perils of having all this privilege — that's kind of what the song is about to me."
Vaden is joined by a fellow 400 Unit member, keyboardist Denny DeBorja, on "Golden Child." DeBorja plays a Wurlitzer electronic piano throughout, adding even more memorable sounds to the song.
"We put a fuzz pedal on the Wurly to make it sound unique and different," Vaden explains. "Oh, and that percussive element you hear in the second verse? That's actually an empty Corona bottle and a pencil. I had a lot of fun with that one."
"Golden Child" is one of the catchiest tunes on Anybody Out There?, but it almost didn't make the album. As Vaden remembers, he was heading to the studio with a friend and had to pick between "Golden Child" and a more Black Crowes-esque song called "The Rescuer."
"This was the last song I recorded for the record," he says. "As soon as my buddy heard "Golden Child," he said we had to go with that one, without a doubt. I wasn't so sure -- I felt uncomfortable with it -- but that just made me realize we really should go with it. That's how it made its way onto the album."
Anybody Out There? follows Vaden's self-titled debut, which came out in 2016 on Shrimp Records. Fans can stay up-to-date with everything happening in Vaden's world, and pre-order his new album, at SadlerVaden.com.
Listen to Sadler Vaden's "Golden Child"
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