Proving his musical mettle with a laid-back, Texas-tinged new album

John Corbett made his name in Hollywood, but when it comes to music he’s no poseur—and latest album Leaving Nothin’ Behind offers proof. “The fact is, I have more of a pedigree to play this kind of music than guys with No. 1 hits right now,” says the West Virginia native who’s been playing country music since he was a kid. “The good news is that when people come to the shows, they have low expectations. But we know what we are doing and just get into playing. By the time we get to the third song, the fans are really into it.”

Sure, Corbett’s high-profile acting roles from Northern Exposure to Sex and the City to My Big Fat Greek Wedding grab media attention, but he’s driven by his love of all things music. He doesn’t write songs but chooses only ones that he wishes he had penned. “I have something in common with Elvis and Frank Sinatra,” he chuckles. “None of us ever wrote one song. But each of them sang songs like they wrote them, like they lived them. I try to do the same thing—not that I’d ever compare myself to either.”

It’s a sentiment that’s guided his creative process since 2006 when Corbett, now 51, released his self-titled debut album. For his latest effort, inspiration came in the form of Nashville songwriter and producer Jon Randall Stewart, whose credits include producing Dierks Bentley’s 2010 album Up on the Ridge. Corbett first heard Stewart when he was given “a recording of some guy singing and playing, no production at all” and was instantly intrigued. He sought out Stewart, and in short order the Music City veteran agreed to partner with Corbett, writing or co-writing seven of the 10 songs and co-producing the album with Gary Paczosa.

Corbett offers a snapshot of the recording process. “Gary would sit in the studio and say, ‘I don’t think the guitar is right on this. It needs to be less rock ’n’ roll,’” recalls Corbett. “Meanwhile, Jon was like a movie director. He’d say, ‘Pull it back on this line’ and sing it to show what he meant, and it was beautiful.

You’d steal what he did.”

Although Corbett receives top-star treatment in Hollywood, he’s happy to be in the trenches when touring as an indie musician. “It is hard work,” he says. “We’re in a van. I do all the driving. I call the promoters, get all the equipment, book all the hotels, map all the routes. I don’t know why I do it—but I just have to.”

–Nancy Dunham

comment closed

Copyright © 2013 M Music & Musicians Magazine ·