Tyler Stanfield wrote his latest single, “Whiskey Heart,” when he was living in Austin, Texas, a few years ago. He says people who aren’t paying attention think it’s a song about drinking.
“It’s not,” Stanfield says. “Whiskey is a metaphor. That’s kind of one of the fun things about it is I like to see if people go deeper than just thinking that it’s about getting drunk and doing that kind of thing.”
The song is part of an as-yet-unreleased three-track EP and is actually about love, and the overwhelming need for it.
“We’re always after love, the love of a woman or another person,” he says. “That’s what it kind of came out to be is: ‘Pour me another shot of what you got and get my whiskey heart drunk on you.’ It was kind of a cool take on saying, ‘You’re what I need. You’re what I crave. I get drunk off your love.’”
Stanfield shot a video for “Whiskey Heart” outside of Brighton earlier this summer. The smoke from the Cameron Peak fire imbued the scene with a healthy amount of haze. It will inexorably link the video with 2020, for better or worse.
“That’s not a fog machine or lighting,” he says. “That’s smoke.”
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“Whiskey Heart” boasts a strong, overdriven guitar riff and, in spirit at least, an outlaw-country vibe. It recalls the crunchy country rock of Chris Stapleton’s “Outlaw State of Mind.” Stanfield says it’s the kind of music that you want modern country to sound like, a little more guitar work and less pop. But Stanfield balks at the prospect of calling it country, and in fairness, his music straddles multiple genres, Southern rock among them.
“You don’t hear something like that on KYGO,” he says. “You don’t hear something like that on KBCO. You don’t hear something like that on KBPI. It’s a really hard placement, but that’s kind of what I like about it.”
Stanfield is originally from Elizabeth and played classical piano as a boy, resulting in a love of classical music. He also has a side project, Fools to Lie, which recalls bands like Chevelle, Breaking Benjamin, Egypt Central and Sevendust. So he's not one to allow himself to be pigeonholed into a genre.
“I’m a very eclectic musician,” he says. “I love all genres. I like country. I like Americana. I like rock. I like the blues. I love the blues. All those influences go into your writing, and your music comes out as a big smorgasbord of everything that you put into it.”
Stanfield, like many in the music business, has seen the number of live shows decrease substantially because of COVID-19. He recently bought a home in Parker and finds the sudden shift form touring musician to homebody to be a blessing in disguise. He’s been on the road since 2011. A break from all that feels welcome, if not bittersweet, because so many of his colleagues are out of work right now.
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“I built a studio in the basement,” he says. “I spend a lot of my time down here just writing and staying focused. I’m doing the smart thing and being safe, just doing what I can to keep myself safe, my family safe and everyone around me.”
Even so, Stanfield has multiple solo shows coming up, including three free gigs this week.
“I like to work the crowd,” he says. “I like to engage as much as possible. … I like to know people are paying attention and engage with them and keep their attention.”
Stanfield takes the stage for solo acoustic shows at the Inverness Hotel, 200 Inverness Drive in Englewood, at 4 to 7 p.m. on October 7. On October 8, he plays the Grist Brewery, 9150 Commerce Center Circle Number 300 in Highlands Ranch. On October 10, he appears again at the Inverness Hotel from 4 to 7 p.m. The shows are free and socially distanced. For more information, check out tylerstanfield.com.