Adam Hambrick is spending this wintry day in Nashville like most Music City denizens, staying off the road and hanging in the house with his family. But for once, the stay-at-home mandate isn’t COVID-19 related. Chalk it up instead to the icy blast of winter that fell upon the city, blanketing the area with a mix of ice, snow, and brutal temperatures that tend to paralyze Southern cities. He’s making the most of the snow day, though. “I’m watching my [two daughters] sled down the yard,” Hambrick says in a pleasing, proud-dad tone. “There’s not enough [snow] to make a snowman, but they’re having a ball.”
And on an otherwise dreary day, things are looking pretty sunny for Hambrick, a singer-songwriter who’s been plying his trade in Nashville since 2013. He’s releasing his EP, The Flipsides, today, February 19th, a collection of six tunes that he co-wrote with an impressive A-list of Music Row’s finest. “I’m really excited because we recorded these a couple of years ago,” says Hambrick, adding that the COVID-19 chaos was mainly responsible for the delay. The title stems from a unique release strategy, packaging two songs similar to the way that those old 45 single records were done, featuring an A-side and a B-side, which was often called the “flip side” in radio jargon. Hambrick observes, “That’s how I personally like to listen to music. I thought this was a very cool and creative idea to release the songs that way, and now, it’s all coming together in one body of work.”
The selections from The Flipsides run a fairly wide emotional gamut, and you couldn’t find two more disparate themes than in “Sunshine State of Mind” and “Do the Math.” The first travels the course you might discern from the title, a positive, lilting look at life’s happy place. But “Do the Math” takes you down a completely different path. It’s a heartbreak number to be certain, but the pain is expressed in a quantitative sort of way, gauging the guy’s misery by the number of drinks he’s thrown down. Hambrick and co-writers David Fanning and Nick Donley deftly accomplish what songwriters always strive to do, express a common human situation in a different way.
If you detect a note of healthy sarcasm in the tune, you’d be right on Hambrick’s wavelength. “We’ve all definitely been asked, ‘How are you doing?’ after a breakup,” Hambrick begins. “And it’s very obvious how you’re doing, which is, not so well. People have good intentions when they ask, but you can’t help but be a little sarcastic. And that is kind of the attitude behind the title. There is definitely some sarcasm going on here,” he adds with a laugh. The heartbreak theme continues with “Broken Ladder,” which paints a familiar scenario of a man living on the wild side following a busted relationship. ‘Been living every minute like it’s Friday night,’ he sings, while comparing a new easy lover to a ‘Band-Aid on a bullethole.’ Ouch –there’s a picturesque image you’re not likely to put out of your head. “That song is meaningful to me because I know what it’s like to cope with heartbreak,” Hambrick says. “Everybody has to come face-to-face with that at some point in their lives.”
Such distinct wordplay comes from years of practicing the craft – he moved to Nashville after signing a publishing deal – as well as learning it from the pros who do it every day for a living. One of his songwriting mentors, Kelly Archer, is also a frequent writing partner, and the two have a pair of cuts on The Flipsides, “Sunshine State of Mind” and “When It All Sinks In.” Hambrick and Archer, along with Tebey Ottho, previously collaborated on “Somebody Else Will,” the No. 1 hit for Justin Moore. “She started writing with me, and that’s something I will always appreciate,” Hambrick says. “What she brings to a session is her expertise. She does a really great job helping you find a way with a song, and making a song more broadly applicable And she is so unpretentious. She understands how it is because it took a long time for her to get a No. 1 single.”
Justin Moore himself was a booster from the get-go, after catching Hambrick’s performance on a TV station in Little Rock, Arkansas, promoting an independent album he had recorded and a local club show. Hambrick, attending the University of Central Arkansas (home to American Idol winner Kris Allen and NBA great Scottie Pippen) at the time, had started writing his own songs, and Arkansas native Moore was impressed enough to recommend Hambrick to his producer Jeremy Stover. Hambrick began making regular trips to Nashville for writing sessions and eventually moved to Music City permanently. His prolific output of songwriting and solid work ethic led to a record deal in 2018.
“Justin has always been a big encourager to me,” Hambrick raves. “For him to go to bat for me was incredible. When he made a call to the guy who became a mentor, he helped changed my life.” Since then, Hambrick and Moore have become close friends and even toured together. “I liked touring with Justin,” Hambrick says. “I definitely connect with him musically.”
Hambrick’s duet with Jillian Jacqueline on “The Longer I Lay Here” from The Flipsides was the result of another musical connection. “I met her a few years ago,” Hambrick recalls. “We were touring with Bobby Bones, and I was playing guitar in Bobby’s band. I fell in love with her work. I thought it would be a nice feature to bring her in for this song.” Jacqueline blended perfectly with Hambrick, creating a dynamic collaboration. “Duets don’t always work,” Hambrick concedes, “but there was a vocal chemistry here. She makes that song. I can’t imagine it without her being on there. It’s kind of like ‘One and one makes three,’ that’s how much she added to it. I love that song and it’s great to see people responding to it.” Like most artists, he’s more than ready to return to the road and soak in a live audience response. “I hope the fans can connect with this record,” he says. “I really think this is my best effort to date.”