“I wrote this song about the first panic attack I had,” says Tommy Prine about his new tune “Reach The Sun.” It happened before he played his very first show. “Even though it was something I had always wanted for myself, the gravity of what I was about to do set in and it was hard to process,” Prine remembers. Like the rest of the songs from Prine’s upcoming debut This Far South—out June 23rd via Thirty Tigers—“Reach The Sun” feels very personal; a journal entry observation set to music. The theme doesn’t end there. More often than not, Prine spins his narrative with positivity and hope, no matter how distant those feelings seem at the start. “‘Reach The Sun’ is about learning to ground yourself and doing something that you love is part of the brighter things of life,” he says.
An emotionally complex but universally accessible debut, This Far South—co-produced by Ruston Kelly and Gena Johnson—brings together a sonic patchwork of musical influences to help tell the story of each song. “Reach The Sun” takes a cue from Prine’s mother’s home of Ireland, its entire first verse nothing but vocals and a digital droning tone imitating something like Uilleann pipes. Eventually, rock and roll instrumentation takes the song higher, but “Reach The Sun” never leaves the waltzing 6/8 time feel of its seemingly Celtic roots. Inspirations from groups like Outkast or The Strokes or Bon Iver sneak into This Far South as well, but Prine always sounds like Prine; honest in his emotions and impactful with his message.
Fans can hear “Reach The Sun” today at the link above and are encouraged to join in for the premiere party tonight at 5 pm Central on Tommy Prine’s YouTube channel.
Prine is fresh off of a run of shows in the southeast that just culminated in four sold out residency shows at Nashville’s The Basement with special guests Katie Pruitt, Ruston Kelly, Amanda Shires and Tré Burt, not to mention supporting Tyler Childers over two sold-out shows in London. A list of tour dates, including Ireland, U.K., and U.S. stops, can be found below or at tommyprine.com/tour.
Stories Behind This Far South: The album’s title track, “This Far South” marks a turning point in Prine’s life as he found himself struggling to escape a dark, aimless period. He ultimately found the courage to act on choices that would see him to the other, brighter, side. “There were several years where I felt without purpose, spent all my time partying, and just existing. I found myself at a fork in the road and chose the better path, and in that moment, I swore I would never be ‘this far south’ again.”
Grief is a major throughline of Prine’s current work. In 2017, Prine lost his best friend to an overdose. “Since then, I have lost some more friends and have others who are still navigating the ups and downs of struggles with drug abuse.” His song, “Letter To My Brother,” was written as a message to the friends he’s lost, those in Recovery, and friends who are still struggling.
He still grapples with the passing of his father in April 2020. “The world lost one of the greatest songwriters of all time, but I lost my dad.” Prine bears the loss of his father and the memories he carries for others on the track, “By The Way.” “The comment I get the most is how much I look like him, and sometimes it makes me feel like I’m a sad reminder to those who loved him.”
While navigating that loss has been difficult, he’s found solace in connecting with others who have lost loved ones through music. “When I’m playing certain songs, I can literally look out in the crowd and tell who else has lost their dad,” he says. “I can immediately tell which people have experienced, specifically, losing their father. They’ll come up and tell me afterward, and I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, like, I figured that this conversation was going to happen,’ because I could see their reaction. It’s been really powerful to see real-deal evidence that grief is a shared experience, and that suffering is a shared experience between humans.”