You may not know the name, but you certainly know the songs. Diamond Rio’s “One More Day,” “A Good Day to Run” by Darryl Worley and, more recently, Mo Pitney‘s “Country” are just three of the classics that bear his name.
Now, the Alabama-born musician, whose songs have also been recorded by the likes of Blake Shelton, Willie Nelson, Faith Hill, Kenny Rogers, Josh Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis, Terri Clark, Joe Nichols and Pam Tillis, has a new album out entitled Out of Road.
His singing and songs have drawn favourable comparisons with Johnny Cash and guest vocalists on the record include Vince Gill, Bobby Bare, Bill Anderson and the up-and-coming Mo Pitney.
Showing his versatility as an entertainer, Tomberlin also appears in – and is an Executive Producer of – Wheeler, an upcoming country music film starring Stephen Dorff and Kris Kristofferson.
“I’m doing great,” he enthused. “I’m having more fun in the business than ever before. I just returned from New York City, where I performed with Stephen Dorff after a screening of Wheeler for the press.
“I co-wrote some of the songs with Dorff for the soundtrack and have a co-starring role. Kris Kristofferson also stars in the film. Wheeler will be released in select theatres and pay on demand on Feb 3. I feel like the film really captures the journey of a dreamer in Nashville like no film before.
“I’m also doing a lot of songwriting and have recently had songs recorded by Blake Shelton, Mo Pitney, Sylvia, Barbra Streisand and Dylan Scott. I’ve also been on the road doing shows on weekends. Last week, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame honoured me by adding a display of my work in a permanent exhibit. I’m SO blessed. I have the greatest friends and family and I’m doing what I love.”
Tomberlin continued: “This is the album I’ve always dreamed of making. I had my dream musicians. Steve Gibson led the sessions and we had a great time in the studio making music for the love of it. Mickey Raphael played on a couple of tracks and that was a blast.
“I wrote the title song with Mo Pitney and Dean Dillon on a songwriting retreat in Canada. Some of the songs are five years old and a couple of them were written the month before the sessions.”
Tomberlin has nothing but praise for 23-year-old Pitney: “He’s in this business for the right reasons. Mo sings and plays for the love of it and I can’t wait for the world to hear some of the new songs that we’ve written this past year. Most importantly, he’s a great friend. There’s no limits for a talent like Mo.”
Asked what the songs on the album are about, Tomberlin replied: “I address real life. I write about what I know or what I observe going on in other people’s lives. It’s hard to describe it in a few words. It’s from the heart, it’s based on a more traditional sound but has edge also.
“I’m influenced by so many writers and artists including Hank Sr. and Jr., James Taylor, Tom T. Hall, Merle Haggard and Jackson Browne, to name a few.”
There is plenty of variety on Out of Road. “I love the song with Bobby Bare, ‘The Songwriter’,” observed Tomberlin, who admitted it was an honour writing with icons such as Bare, Mac Davis and Bill Anderson (he has collaborated with many of his heroes over the years – Phil Everly, Paul Williams, Loretta Lynn, etc.).
“There’s a lot of truth in that one. ‘The Grand Ole Opry’ is definitely a favourite and it was special to record my own version of ‘One More Day’. I wrote that song with Steven Dale Jones and Diamond Rio had a big hit with it a few years ago.”
What has Bobby got lined up for 2017? “My calendar is filling up with songwriting appointments,” he noted. “I’m going into my 22nd year with Mike Curb Music and it’s been a great adventure so far.
“Mike and his staff are so loyal and I’m so thankful that he’s allowed me to live my dream. I have several shows already scheduled for next year. The film will be released in February and we will be doing more press for it.”
To learn more about one of Nashville’s top songwriters, visit his official website.