Travis Meadows, First Cigarette
Here is the way 50-something Nashville folk-country singer Travis Meadows describes himself: “An orphan who turned into a preacher. A preacher who turned into a songwriter. A songwriter that turned into a drunk. A drunk that is learning to be a human being.” He’s a “your favorite artist’s favorite artist” craftsman in the Chris Stapleton mode; the cover of his breakout album has the elegantly grizzled-badass vibe of a Southern Tom Waits. The songs follow suit, sung in a honeyed 10-packs-a-day growl, hailing the redemptive powers of Bruce Springsteen and abject failure and the way “bitter roads turn into highways.” His best chorus sums up both the triumph and the tragedy here: “I’m doin’ alright for a guy like me.” All the bridges he’s burned just keep him warm.