Growing up in South Jersey, Patrick Droney’s career began with a bang, as at age 13 he won a Robert Johnson New Generation Award as “Best Young Blues Guitarist” and began sharing stages with the likes of B.B. King, James Brown, The Roots, Taj Mahal, Macy Gray and Elvis Costello. Now, after compiling a résumé that reads like a dream, Droney has released his debut album – “State of the Heart” – available now.
Droney also is coming back to Philly – which he describes as “the city where I cut my teeth and grew up” – and will perform at Underground Arts on Sept. 30. For tickets and info, visit undergroundarts.org.
Droney became enamored with New York City at an early age, gigging frequently in esteemed Manhattan clubs and eventually attending the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU. He moved to LA and signed a publishing deal, and in 2018 relocated to Nashville to craft a self-titled EP, also making his TV debut on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” performing at Barclays Center for Tidal X, and seeing his song “High Hope” featured on “Grey’s Anatomy.” After signing to WarnerRecords in 2019, he appeared at Bonnaroo and ACL, collaborated with Kygo, released the first half of his debut, and recently reached the 60 million streams milestone.
On his “State of the Heart” LP, the virtuosic guitar playing for which he is known is equaled by his singing, songwriting, and production abilities, resulting in a master class of contemporary songs infused with everything the artist has learned to date about his craft. By tapping into his vast well of experience, Droney has created a debut record that balances its broad influences with sincere and specific sonic touchstones to offer something that can truly appeal to everyone.
PW recently caught up with Droney to talk about his career and new album.
Let’s go back to the beginning. When did you first become interested in music? Who were some of your earliest influences?
Since my Dad is a brilliant guitarist in his own right, it was all but a sure thing that I would soak up what he loved. I remember the first time I heard B.B. King and Ray Charles as well as the storytelling of Bill Withers, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell and Springsteen. Henley is a huge one too. So many inspirations and formative figures right out of the gate. I’m fortunate that music was a language taught even before I really knew how to communicate with words.
You’ve shared the stage with legends such as B.B. King and James Brown. Talk a little about those experiences.
I was born in Lancaster and moved to South Jersey in middle school. By that time, I was already doing school on the weekdays and shows on the weekends. I was lucky to be able to easily get to Philly and play clubs then hop up to NY to do the same. As the story started to unfold as a young live performer (ages 12-17), I was afforded the opportunity to meet and play with some of my heroes. B.B. King really took special care to usher in the next generation of musicians as a way to keep the torch lit. I feel so lucky to have shared some of that time and space and feel a real responsibility to honor them through the music I play.
The deluxe version of your album “State of the Heart” came out this month. How did that album come together?
“State of the Heart” is an album a lifetime in the making. A collection of 15 songs that are pillars of my experience growing up and finding my way. It’s been a long journey to the beginning, and with this album I truly feel like I have made it there.
I produced this record with my own hands and some songs have been around for as long as six years. “State of the Heart” as a title speaks of the universal machine we all have beating in our chest which connects us infinitely through the shared journey through the human condition. My goal in making this record was to articulate my story in hopes those who don’t have the words to articulate theirs might feel less alone. The “Deluxe” version includes a number of additional tracks continuing the story of “State of the Heart.” None of them are filler tracks. Each is an essential component making this story complete. I truly am so excited to give the album a last chapter.
How excited are you to be performing before live audiences again? What will your fans see when they show up at Underground Arts on Sept. 30?
Our first headline show back was just a few weeks ago and the energy was unlike anything I’ve experienced. To hear my fans sing every word of this record back to me in unison is so humbling and to feel the heartbeat of the band not taking a single moment for granted up there is a real blessing. I’m excited to come back to Philly, the city where I cut my teeth and grew up, is going to be very special for me. Fans can expect it all to be left up on stage.
What are the best ways for your fans to stay current with what you’re doing?
Stay posted via Instagram @PatrickDroney.