14 Songs, 53 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

If the recipe for the singer-songwriter tradition has started to feel staid—one part confession, two parts guitar—Nashville-based Ruston Kelly instead mixes a much more complex cocktail on Dying Star, detailing not just his scars, but the ugly ways he got them: “Blackout” confesses his penchant for over-imbibing, while the vocoder-heavy “Son of a Highway Daughter” details his ladykiller ways. Those subjects have been well covered by other country singers, but Kelly’s weathered voice and interest in electro-pop, punk, and even emo showcase a man wrestling with toxic masculinity so he can uncover what’s underneath that palimpsest.

Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics. Mastered for iTunes

EDITORS’ NOTES

If the recipe for the singer-songwriter tradition has started to feel staid—one part confession, two parts guitar—Nashville-based Ruston Kelly instead mixes a much more complex cocktail on Dying Star, detailing not just his scars, but the ugly ways he got them: “Blackout” confesses his penchant for over-imbibing, while the vocoder-heavy “Son of a Highway Daughter” details his ladykiller ways. Those subjects have been well covered by other country singers, but Kelly’s weathered voice and interest in electro-pop, punk, and even emo showcase a man wrestling with toxic masculinity so he can uncover what’s underneath that palimpsest.

Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics. Mastered for iTunes
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Ratings and Reviews

4.6 out of 5
45 Ratings
45 Ratings
LisaMarieZG

Flawless from beginning to end.

One of the best things that has come out of being a huge Kacey Musgrave's fan, is the discovery of her incredibly talented husband, Ruston Kelly. Both equally talented musicians and song writers, but with two amazing, original styles. Ruston can stand on his own, and does in this unbelievably beautiful album that is lyrically stunning from beginning to end. With meaningful songs that are enough to put a lump in your throat. These songs, are pure and raw talent that you don’t hear enough of. Thank you for sharing your talents. This album will be on repeat for a while.

Man'sBestFriend

Stellar...

I am not into the Nashville radio country scene, but this album is the best thing to come out from a Nashville radio friendly artist in AGES. Isebll and Stapleton cracked open the door in recent years, but Ruston could blow the doors off. "Dying Star" could be a game changer for Nashville radio and the garbage that they typically promote.

Austin Calloway

Real bones and blood

In this time of feel good country music, where everyone wants to be seen as successful and happy and to sing about how “country they are” ~ It is refreshing to hear original music with lyrics that are not afraid to be raw and bold. To speak of hurt again. To speak of the messy places inside of our heads and our hearts. How those places tangle in our lives, our loves, our beds, and on the ‘front seat of your car.’ This is modern music and it pains of REAL Country.
I do like this album!

About Ruston Kelly

Marrying the hardscrabble poetry of alt-country troubadours with the moodiness of alternative singer/songwriters, Ruston Kelly cut a unique figure in Nashville at the tail end of the 2010s. His relationship with Kacey Musgraves — the pair met at the Bluebird Café in 2016 and married the following year — may have earned him some headlines, but he built his reputation as a songwriter, writing "Nashville Without You" for Tim McGraw in 2013. As a performer, he moved toward the fringes of mainstream country, a shift notable on his 2017 debut EP, Halloween, and its 2018 full-length follow-up, Dying Star.

Ruston Kelly was born in South Carolina but he spent his childhood moving from town to town due to his father, whose job at a paper mill required him to relocate every few years. As a child and teenager, Kelly competed as a figure skater. His skating took him to Michigan when he was 14. Staying with a host family, Kelly began to dip his toes into songwriting, and his interest deepened when he moved with his own family to Belgium toward the end of his high-school years, returning to the States when he was 17, settling in Nashville with his sister. Slowly, he started carving out a career as a songwriter, signing a publishing deal with BMG Nashville in 2013. That year, he placed "Nashville Without You" with Tim McGraw, who recorded it for the album Two Lanes of Freedom.

Kelly played in the jam band Elmwood but he slowly built a reputation as a songwriter in the mid-2010s, thanks to collaborations with Josh Abbott and Hayes Carll. Additionally, he gained recognition as the boyfriend of Kacey Musgraves; the pair married in October 2017.

Signing with Razor & Tie's Washington Square Music, Kelly released his debut EP, Halloween, in 2017. Produced by Mike Mogis, who previously worked with Jenny Lewis and Bright Eyes, the EP earned strong reviews and attention on streaming services, and Kelly's momentum increased when "A*****e" started to make viral waves in April 2018. By that point, he signed with Rounder and finished his full-length debut, Dying Star, a record co-produced by Jarrad K and recorded at El Paso's Sonic Ranch. Dying Star appeared in September 2018.

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