“I can see the tattoo on your shoulder, every night that mockingbird still haunts my dreams. He gets to chirpin’ and a callin’ whenever I’m not around, raggin’ on me every time he sings.” Nashville-based songwriter Gabe Lee is becoming increasingly known for his ability to detail the intricacies of everyday life, the small distinctions that leave some on the fringe and others in the mainstream, and the particulars that stick around long after a lover leaves.
His second album in as many years, Honky Tonk Hell, finds Gabe diving deeper into themes that aren’t far from his own life -- exactly what it meant to grow up in Nashville and what it means to still be a songwriter there, how it feels to be settling into adulthood and the monotony and occasional heartbreak it can contain, as well as the pieces of a younger time that didn’t quite work out as expected. But, the way he tells these stories — these common pieces of experiences — is through narratives of men on the run, lovers who leave and vivid imagery, inspired by everything from Biblical stories to forgotten small towns and the people who inhabit them. Adorned with wailing guitars, pedal steel, a B3 organ, an occasional harmonica, dobro and lap steel, Honky Tonk Hell almost seems tailor-made for any dancehall jukebox — but with sentiments that will stick with you for much longer than its initial play.