Preston Lovinggood was at a creative standstill. His former band, Wild Sweet Orange, signed to Canvasback Records and had taken him across the country playing a variety of shows, festivals, even a slot on The Late Show With David Letterman. But all of that came to an end last year.
“Wild Sweet Orange broke up and I didn’t really know what to do. It was very similar to a breakup of a relationship. It’s like if you broke up with your girlfriend. You love her, you respect her, but it just doesn’t work for whatever reason,” Lovinggood said. “It takes a lot to get over, especially if you envisioned it a certain way for so many years. Still a lot of soul searching and I felt like giving up on it.”
Fortunately for Birmingham music lovers and Lovinggood’s many regional and national fans, he found a community of people who wanted to support the songwriter in any way possible to keep him on his musical path.
Jeffrey Caine quickly signed Lovinggood to his Communicating Vessels label and encouraged him to make a solo record.
“[Caine]’s been in the industry a long time and just knows a lot. He has a lot of savvy, knowing how to nurture a band because he’s an artist himself. There’s just so much freedom there and so much excitement. There’s a studio to record in and there’s someone to be excited about. If you have a song idea or a record cover idea, he’s going to be supportive and be into it,” Lovinggood said.
Another supporter was producer Darrel Thorp who invited Lovinggood to come record in Los Angeles. Lovinggood went out to LA in May and began working on the album, even though the song selection was not even complete.
“I brought three songs that I had sort of finished and through that came a burst of creativity and a burst of serenity, a burst of self-confidence. It’s been definitely an adventure. A lot of highs and lows, but we’re about to be finished with the record and I’m super excited about it,” he said.
“The theme is really letting go. There is a theme of if you hold on too tight to something, you're gonna lose control. There is a theme of self-acceptance. Really the theme is letting go and not obsessing over the tiny, little seeds you're trying to plant. Just trusting that the things you want to happen will happen," Lovinggood says of this collection of songs.
One source of inspiration came in the form of the novel, The Moviegoer, and its author, Birmingham-native and literary hero, Walker Percy.
“When the band did break up and we weren’t working anymore, I did discover that book and that writer. Honestly, that’s the whole reason I kept writing and I keep trying to write as good as that to me. As someone who’s Southern, as someone who’s Catholic, as someone who definitely is looking for the deeper meaning behind things, Walker Percy just came to me and it was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Lovinggood.
As far as touring and promoting the album is concerned, Lovinggood plans to do a wide variety of cross-country house shows.
“I want to be with people I love and respect and be respectful and loving and have a good time. So that’s the first plan, just to do some chill, more relaxed shows to get my feet wet. Just be around some communities of people and use that to inspire the next push of what we do, whether or not it is to go on a six-week club date tour,” he said.
Lovinggood speaks kindly of Birmingham and of the scene in which he has developed his songwriting chops as well as his current record label home.
“I would just love to see [Birmingham] continue to think outside the box, which is what I love about Communicating Vessels is that they think outside the box and they do think about the world, and know that there’s a world outside of Birmingham. While knowing there’s a world outside of Birmingham, they’re still loving and acknowledging Birmingham, and still respecting the art of playing music for other people,” he said.