Luke Grimes isn’t just an actor… he’s a real deal country artist.
The Yellowstone star possibly better known as Kayce Dutton has been in the process of starting his country music career for about a year or so now, writing with some of the best Nashville has to offer, like Brent Cobb and Jessi Alexander.
And today, his debut EP Pain Pills Or Pews is out everywhere, showing off his songwriting talent and real ear for solid country melodies and meaningful songs.
Luke says he’s “so grateful” for everyone who has helped him make this dream a reality:
“I don’t deserve this. Full stop. Yet, here it is. Im so grateful to everyone who has helped me get here.
A dream of putting music out in the world and getting to share it live is now something of a reality. Thank you for listening and showing up.
It caught my attention immediately when he mentioned legends like Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson as musical inspirations, and the singles he released leading up to today were all solid, which gave me hope that this was more than just a hobby or fun little side project while we wait for Yellowstone to pick back up.
It’s no secret that transitioning from being an actor to a country music singer isn’t easy, and something most people can’t pull off, but I have loved his process for this whole record so far because it comes across like he is really taking this endeavor seriously.
And the proof is in the eight songs included on the tracklist.
Not to mention, Grimes worked with legendary producer Dave Cobb too (who has produced for artists like Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton), which says a lot about his potential and raw talent in the country genre.
Though, he’s not exactly a stranger to it, as he was previously part of an alt-country band called Mitchell’s Folly, which actually released an album in 2008.
As you listen through, I think you’ll find his vocals are surprisingly good too, and his voice has a grainy, rawness to it that fits perfectly on these songs, allowing the lyricism and meaning to shine.
Grimes actually released quite a few of the songs ahead of today, including the lead single “No Horse To Ride,” “Burn,” “Playing On The Tracks,” “Oh Ohio” and a cover of Foy Vance’s “Hold On.”
Though, I have to say, I really do think he saved the best stuff for release day.
I’m impressed with every element of this project, which blows most of what you hear on mainstream country out of the water and deserves to be taken seriously in a genre where so many artists, actors and talents from other worlds try to come in and change everything… and let’s be honest, fail miserably.
This EP is not a “genre-changing” project by any means, and it isn’t meant to be that. But it is genuinely great, real country music that pulls inspiration from some of the greatest to ever do it, written by Grimes himself based on what moves him and matters in his life.
Does it get much more country than that? I think not… and now, the reason you’re here, let’s get into the music.
“Ghost Of Who We Were”
An easy standout for me, “Ghost Of Who We Were” was written by Luke along with Nicolle Galyon and Rodney Clawson.
In terms of production, it’s pretty stripped-down and simple, as he sings about the forlorn feelings of a long lost love and how he can’t get his former flame out of his head.
“Where It’s Blue”
One of the only songs not written by Grimes, the Colton Venner-penned tune is another heartbreaker about trying to move on and stick out the pain of a breakup long enough to start feeling better.
About the universal feeling of sadness, Grimes sings poignantly that “I guess the fire burns the hottest where it’s blue.”
I love the play on words there, and I will have this one on repeat for the foreseeable future.
“Ain’t Dead Yet”
This one was another easy standout for me, which has a much more upbeat, rock and roll edge to it than most of the other music on this EP.
Written by Grimes with Aaron Raitiere, the pair found a shared love for Nirvana’s iconic MTV Unplugged in New York album (one of my all-time favorites, too) during one of their writing sessions.
He told Billboard that they wanted to write a song centered on the concept of if Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain had been a “redneck from Kentucky” who grew old with the love of his life:
“We thought, ‘What if we wrote a Nirvana-sounding song?
What if Kurt Cobain was a redneck from Kentucky, and had lived to be 70 years old and wrote a song for his wife? What would that sound like?’”
Firstly, as a huge fan of Nirvana and obviously, country music, I’ve never heard a concept I loved more. It has an almost groovy element to it, too, and I imagine will be really fun to hear at a live show:
Pain Pills Or Pews tracklist:
1. No Horse To Ride (Luke Grimes)
2. Hold On (Foy Vance)
3. Ghost Of Who We Were (Luke Grimes)
4. Where It’s Blue (Colton Venner)
5. Burn (Luke Grimes)
6. Playing On The Tracks (Luke Grimes)
7. Oh Ohio (Luke Grimes)
8. Ain’t Dead Yet (Luke Grimes)
Luke will be hitting the road playing a few cities across the country this fall in support of the new music. Tickets are on sale now.
Luke Grimes 2023 tour dates:
11/9 Columbus, OH Newport – Music Hall
11/10 Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts
11/30 Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
12/1 Rosemont, IL – Joe’s Live
12/7 Dallas, TX – The Factory in Deep Ellum
12/9 Austin, TX – Emo’s
12/15 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
12/16 Boston, MA – Royale