“Started with nothing and here we are now. Knew there was something, but didn’t know how, it’d play out,” That first line from Garrett Lee’s title track “From The Ground Up,” seems almost prophetic. I last spoke to Lee about the recovery of his stolen backpack which held nearly two years of recordings for his soon-to-be album. He’s gone from this tragic turned miraculous event and has wound up here, with the release of his album “From the Ground Up.” Of this turn of events, Lee says, “There’s really no words to describe my relief and excitement. To be able to turn this page on this project has been everything to me. It wound up being close to three years in the works. I definitely experienced a world of emotions from November 2020 when the backpack was stolen to January 2020 when it was miraculously returned. I’m so relieved that the album is finally out there for the world to hear. I could not be happier.”
The album doesn’t shy away from strong emotions. Juxtapositions of hope and dismay, and love and pain exist simultaneously, sometimes even within one song. “I want to write real songs about real life,” said Lee, “Whenever I experience adversity, hard times and really painful moments in life, I long to capture that musically.” Shooting the album cover with local photographer Trey Walker brought Lee to the realization that the true theme of the album as a whole is conquering adversity. “A lot of the album is about adversity and hard things. It was a chapter in my life. The album cover signifies, literally and figuratively, that I’m on top of all this stuff, and does so in a way that alludes to me making it through, and better days ahead,” said Lee.
Lee aspires to capture the raw, realness of life in all his music. Quite a few of the songs on the album reflect this intention: “The Deep,” “Heaven’s Sake” and “Mercy” to name a few. These songs exude a complete outcry of brokenness and need for help that register more universally than they do as the deeply personal songs they are. This stems from Lee’s wish to connect with his listeners in an honest, vulnerable manner. “My desire for my music is to connect lyrically with someone. I want the music to be good, but I want people to say those words are for them,” said Lee. In addition to the personal narrative weaved throughout many of the songs, Lee enjoys writing from other perspectives and channels stories of friends or family members as inspiration for songwriting.
Alongside the heavier-themed songs on the album are songs of incredible lightness, love and hope. One in particular that stands out is, “Hey Kid.”
“My favorite thing on earth to do is to gift someone a song. It’s the best way for me to fully communicate my feelings and emotions,” said Lee, “‘’Hey Kid’ is one of those songs that I sing to myself and I sing to my kids all the time. It’s just a reminder of my love for my children.” The song doesn’t shy away from true fears of becoming a first-time parent with lyrics like, “Never knew how to feel this. A little scared at the start.” And yet, lyrics like “I’ll never leave, you’ll always be the one I need,” carry such gorgeous intentionality it’s hard to not tear up when hearing them. That’s the genius of Lee’s writing; his songs can do both. They hold the bounty of human emotions, and not just the pretty ones.
Lee is looking forward to playing his album live. He has a few exciting shows coming up in the near future, not to mention one of them is opening for a world-famous country star. Lee opens for Emmylou Harris at the Sweetland Ampitheater in LaGrange, Ga, this Saturday, July 24th. “It’s such an unbelievable opportunity to open for a country icon,” said Lee, “I love the timing of it, having just released the album last month. I’m planning to have a great time Saturday. I’m really looking forward to connecting to a whole new audience.” Lee also will be headlining September’s Silvan Sessions hosted by local luthier Frank Schley on September 30th. Lee plans to announce more dates in the fall.
What can we expect from Garrett Lee in the future? He’s currently working on a possible future album. With four songs under his belt, he awaits inspiration to strike for more and cannot be more excited to once again connect with people through them. ◼︎
Connect with Garrett!
Listen to his album on Spotify.