On the heels of recent press at American Songwriter, who deemed his new single "foot-stomping outlaw country," Joe Stamm has officially announced his debut studio album, The Good & the Crooked (& The High & The Horny), out September 25. The Joe Stamm Band makes countrified roots-rock with an emphasis on the roots, drawing on Stamm's small-town upbringing in rural Illinois for a sound that blends heartland hooks with Nashville twang. It's a sound that's taken the songwriter from the college apartment where he strummed his first chords to venues beyond the Midwest, sharing shows with personal heroes like Kris Kristofferson and Chris Knight along the way. With his debut studio LP, The Good & The Crooked (& The High & The Horny), Stamm begins building his own legacy, leading his band of road warriors through an album rooted in all-American storytelling and guitar-driven swagger.
Recorded in a converted barn outside of Iowa City, The Good & The Crooked (& The High & The Horny) is a studio album that owes its electrified energy to Stamm's live show. It was there — onstage, guitar in hand, headlining a club in Peoria one night and playing with artists like Tyler Childers and Easton Corbin the next — that Stamm sharpened the edges of his self-described "black dirt music," rolling Americana, country, and blue-collar rock & roll influences into his own style. Some songs were autobiographical, spinning true-life stories of love, loss, and life in Middle America. Others, like the barn-burning "12 Gauge Storyline," were character-driven and fictional. Whittled into sharp shape by a touring schedule that kept Stamm and company on the road for as many as 150 days a year, those songs took new shape in the recording studio, shot through with amplified riffs, grooves, and arrangements that rolled just as hard as they rocked.
Fiction and autobiography come together on the album's title track, a coming-of-age anthem that finds Stamm writing about the humor, heartache, charm, and chaos of youth in America. "Everyone falls into at least one — and usually several — of those categories," he says of "The Good & The Crooked (& The High & The Horny)." "That song really captured a sense of things, a sense of people, and a sense of what it's like to grow up in America."
For Stamm, growing up in America involved a good amount of time on the football field. A teenage quarterback in a sports-obsessed town, he led his high school team to back-to-back state appearances, becoming a local celebrity along the way. When an injury brought his sports career to an end during his college years, though, Stamm found a new passion in music, diving into the work not only of classic country crooners like George Jones and Johnny Cash, but also the modern-day heavyweights of Texas' country scene, including Randy Rogers Band, Pat Green, and Reckless Kelly. Before long, he was writing his own songs — and just like his favorite Texas artists, he rooted his music in a strong sense of place, bringing a midwestern spirit to his own brand of country music. Stamm was soon packing venues across central Illinois, trading the athletic fame of his teenage years for an equally rewarding — and longer-lasting — brand of recognition.
"I like writing about characters and coming up with stories," says Stamm, whose diverse past — including his time in an evangelical Christian household, his athletic days behind the line of scrimmage, and his creative rebirth as country music's newest rule-breaker — is woven throughout The Good & The Crooked (& The High & The Horny), lending personal details to even the most fictional of songs. "Songwriting is where experience and imagination meet," he adds, "and each song finds a different spot on that spectrum."
With The Good & The Crooked (& The High & The Horny), the spectrum is as wide as it is compelling, with Stamm roping together a range of honky-tonk hooks, rock & roll guitars, heartland twang, and country swagger. He's a songwriter. A bandleader. A storyteller. And while he'll always be a proud midwestern native — a man shaped by the creek bottoms, fields, and fence rows of Metamora, Illinois — he writes from a more universal perspective on his full-length studio debut. These aren't just his stories, after all. They're all of ours.
Joe Stamm Band's The Good & the Crooked (& The High & the Horny) is due out September 25