|Photo by Chris Phelps|
Here's a great new song from Charlie Overbey, a Californian with a southern soul. It's an anthemic mid-tempo country tune about …well, getting in trouble. What's more country than that? Joining Charlie with some great backing vocals is Eleanor Whitmore. I don't want to call it an outlaw song, but it certainly dabbles in the habits and misfortunes of that brand of country. Definitely a great Friday tune and a solid introduction to his forthcoming album, Broken Arrow. Give it a listen!
"Trouble Likes Me Best" was written about a combo of truths from a trip to the county jail in Nashville to witnessing a couple of stoned young ladies driving onto the highway off-ramp in Los Angeles, CA.
David Allan Coe once said to me while touring together, “I shoulda written that fuckin’ song~!“
But my favorite is that my father used to say, “That’s the best song you ever wrote, son. Who wrote that?”
More information after the song player!
"Written as a kind of last will and testament, Overbey inhabits his friend's psyche to celebrate his life with thrilling glee" - LA TIMES
“Country folk rock that packs a gritty emotional punch." - Cowboys & Indians
"This well-traveled troubadour gets our attention with a gruff vocal style whose undertone says, ‘I’ve lived it, I’ve been there.’” - Music Connection
“Overbey has the songcraft to turn his anecdotes and observations into engaging songs that are by turns melodically hooky and lyrically genuine.” - Music Connection
“L.A. rock veteran Charlie Overbey is creating quite a buzz with his brand of California alt-country.” - Amazon.com
“Charlie spent years evolving as a musician, from Sunset Strip band Big Bang Babies to cowpunks Custom Made Scare to Deadbolt and Charlie & the Valentine Killers. Now he’s emerged—not entirely unscathed—as a pretty serious songwriter.” - Little Brother Music
“A staple of the Los Angeles music scene.” - Echo Park Rising
“Overbey has been writing songs for years that hit listeners with raw emotion.” - The Coachella Valley Independent
“Captivating. Overbey’s songwriting takes you on a musical journey filled with emotion and vivid imagery. He lands himself right next to some great singer/songwriters like Tom Petty, Jackson Browne & Bruce Springsteen.” - Music Junkie Press
“Uptempo twang. California to the core.” - Monterey County Weekly
“Wearing Willie Nelson’s braids, holding his guitar low and approaching his songs with some Springsteen muscle. … an energetic ballet of layered guitars with plenty of heartbreak, setbacks, tattoos & whiskey.” - Rock NYC
“A hard-rocking classic-country sound, soulful lyrics and a bit of twang on the side - Rock NYC
CHARLIE OVERBEY -- BROKEN ARROW
Charlie Overbey may be a lifelong Californian, but his songs are steeped in the timeless traditions of the American South. After years of touring the world supporting acts ranging from David Allan Coe and Blackberry Smoke to Social Distortion and Motorhead, Overbey slowly amassed a collection of introspective original songs that transcend the endless rock & roll party, taking a stark, undeniably honest look at some of life’s most gritty moments. The result is Charlie Overbey’s new LP, Broken Arrow.
A triumphant collection of road-hardened alt-country tunes born of Overbey’s upbringing in what he calls “the school and church of Johnny Cash,” Broken Arrow features guest appearances from The Mastersons (who also play in Steve Earle's band The Dukes), Miranda Lee Richards (who sings on duet single “Slip Away”) and Eddie Spaghetti of the Supersuckers, and was produced by Ted Hutt who recently won a Grammy for his work with Old Crow Medicine Show, and has helmed multiple albums by Lucero, The Gaslight Anthem, Dropkick Murphys and many more.
“I’ve never worked with anybody like Ted,” Overbey says, reflecting on the sessions. “This is the first time I’ve ever let go and trusted somebody else as a partner in my songs. He really pulled some stuff out of me that I had not planned on delivering. Honestly, these songs can be hard for me to sing—they come from a deep, real and sometimes dark place.”
Self-aware and introspective without relying on played-out tropes of love and loss, Overbey’s songwriting is genuine, fearless and visceral. Authentic, reverb-drenched ‘70s-channeling album opener “Slip Away” gets right at the heart of life’s darkness, chronicling the heart-wrenching suicide of a young girl. Accompanied by wailing pedal steel and the haunting harmonies of Miranda Lee Richards, the song sets a tone of somber acceptance in the face of mortality.
“The Ballad of Eddie Spaghetti”—featuring a guest appearance from its namesake—also addresses mortality, though from a different perspective, confronting Spaghetti’s recent struggles with cancer. While the refrain, “If I die at 47, if I die before my time / Will they drag me up to heaven or deliver me to Hell in my prime” might read as a last will & testament, the soaring vocals and upbeat tempo elevate it to an awe-inspiring, fist-pumping battle cry. As Overbey sees it, “You gotta step up and kick life’s ass sometimes.”
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Overbey was exposed to country music early and often. It wasn’t something he sought out on his own—his father owned a 1947 Gibson J-45 acoustic guitar, and almost every time it was played, out spilled a Johnny Cash song. Overbey recalls these times fondly and admits they shaped his musical growth, though it took years of punk-rock rebellion before he’d come to appreciate the genre’s influence on him. “When you’re raised, and it’s all around you,” he says, “it’s the last thing you want to be a part of.”
Overbey’s first success in the music industry came when his cowpunk outfit Custom Made Scare landed a deal with Side One Dummy Records in 1998. But before the band’s debut album dropped, Overbey went on the run from the law for months, finally turning himself in and spending a year in prison. The very same week he was released, the band hit the road immediately, and toured heavily into the new millennium alongside seminal punk acts such as Suicidal Tendencies, Social Distortion, Agent Orange, Zeke and REO Speedealer.
A side project of Overbey’s called Charlie & The Valentine Killers also toured in the late 2000s with David Allan Coe and Lemmy's side outfit The Headcat. “It was still days of angst,” Overbey says, but the country-leaning project’s sound served as an important precursor to his current solo work backed by the Broken Arrows.
Looking ahead to the April 2018 release of Broken Arrow, Overbey is gearing up to hit the road with a vengeance for the first time in years. He and the band are already working on songs for a follow-up record that will draw from the same rich vein as Broken Arrow. Overbey isn’t one for idle hands—when he isn’t playing or writing, Charlie has become a well-known name in the fashion world with his one-of-a-kind, hand-shaped Lone Hawk Hats, for devotees in the Americana scene, including the camps of Blackberry Smoke, Miranda Lambert, Lucero, the Foo Fighters, Dwight Yoakam, Cage The Elephant, Kaleo, and Miley Cyrus. Lone Hawk Hats were even the focus point in a recent Stella McCartney campaign. It’s a craft Overbey taught himself by trial and error, ultimately carrying with it the same authenticity and attention to detail you’ll find in his songwriting. They are available at several high-end locations, including he and his lady's brick-and-mortar shop Honeywood Vintage / Lone Hawk Hats on ultra hip York Blvd in Highland Park, Los Angeles.
As the album title suggests, an existential darkness permeates Broken Arrow. It is the work of a road-savvy rock & roll veteran who sees the world as it is, fully grasping the jagged pain of life. But this darkness isn’t a dead end—Overbey’s songs are shot through with enough hard-fought resilience, determination and optimism to remind listeners the only way out is forward, and that the wild ride of life is a mysterious and beautiful gift.