For Jimmy Lumpkin and the Revival, the album title Home represents more than just the secluded cabin in the swamps of southern Alabama where the new music was written.
“We use the word ‘home’ all the time and it means so many different things to so many people. But when I write these songs, I want to live in the songs,” says Lumpkin, who grew up in Savannah, Georgia, but now lives in the marshlands near Mobile, Alabama.
Creative ambition runs through Home, a collection of original songs spanning Southern soul to rock ‘n’ roll. A powerful message of hope is especially prominent in the roaring anthem, “My Name Is Love.” It’s a title that not even the songwriter saw coming.
“Sometimes you get a phrase in your mind and you pick up your instrument and you start writing to put a melody to it, or some music to it. When I wrote ‘My Name Is Love,’ it was the opposite,” he explains. “I had the music. I had this driving sound and I was going with my energy and started singing, ‘I believe you’re gonna know my name…’ And then ‘my name is love’ came out of me. I was like, ‘Damn! That’s what I wanted to say!’ At that moment, I felt like I was being spoken to.”
A sense of spirituality is threaded throughout Home, complemented by an unmistakable groove. Lumpkin notes that a great deal of the lyrics are drawn from his own experiences, particularly on devastating heartache songs like “The Best One.” The rousing “Everytime I Leave” exemplifies the mixed emotions of leaving home behind. And although the gambler character in “Raven of Jade” comes from a poem he wrote in high school, he says that his own personality still comes through when he’s writing from someone else’s perspective.
While he was living in Fairhope, Alabama (an artistic community just outside of Mobile), Jimmy Lumpkin met a filmmaker from the area named Scott Lumpkin. They aren’t related but they became fast friends based on mutual respect. Scott Lumpkin wanted to find original music for his movies; Jimmy Lumpkin sent him dozens of songs. Soon, the songwriter was signed to Skate Mountain Records, the Alabama-based record label owned by Scott Lumpkin and his wife Kate.
Noah Shain, the Los Angeles-based album producer, selected some of the heaviest songs from the bunch for Home, which still makes the songwriter laugh.
“I told them, ‘You’re going to have me on an emotional roller coaster because you picked songs that were impactful to my life when I wrote them,’” Lumpkin recounts. “As a songwriter, when I write a song that is genuinely me, and my emotions are on my shirtsleeve and everybody will know me for who I really am – what I like to do after that is write a light-hearted song to get myself of that, because you just can’t live in those emotions every day of your life! So the songs that I wrote that are light-hearted and what I consider fun, they didn’t pick those songs!”
Lumpkin recorded the project with some of the top musicians in Los Angeles. At Lumpkin’s request, they went with analog recording using a vintage machine that Shain had acquired from Nashville. Bob Dylan. Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash are among the artists who had recorded on that machine.
“That was super rewarding to know that I got to be a part of history with that piece of equipment when I made the album. It means the world,” Lumpkin says. “To me, analog means you’re capturing things in a way that is real. It brings out that richness in the sounds you’re making. Also you don’t have to be super loud to give it the strength it needs. That’s what I was looking for.”
Although he has lived in Georgia, Tennessee and Colorado, Lumpkin wrote most of the songs for Home in a rustic cabin outside of Fairhope. He also recorded the demos there, letting the new songs soak into the wormholes of the wood. When it came time to make the record, he traveled to Los Angeles and found immediate chemistry with the studio musicians. The horn section adds some grease to the project, while Lumpkin’s own raspy, compelling baritone carries the narrative from one song to the next.
Music has been a cornerstone of Lumpkin’s entire life. Growing up, he remembers watching his dad playing guitar with an old Peavey amp -- and being mesmerized by the shimmering colors of the tubes. Like a lot of kids, piano lessons were required but that only lasted about a year. Two of his uncles were drummers, so he learned a few techniques from them as a child, then kept teaching himself more licks.
When he was a teenager, an old friend on the school bush heard Lumpkin singing The Black Crowes’ “She Talks to Angels” and told him he had a band that Lumpkin should sing in. He auditioned and got the job, which meant playing in bars even in high school. The band had some music without lyrics, so Lumpkin contributed the words – his first entrance into songwriting.
But perhaps the most pivotal moment came when his mother bought him an acoustic guitar when he was 18. She had already encouraged his musical interests by buying him albums on cassette by Michael Jackson, Prince and Bruce Springsteen, but the guitar became indispensable.
In the following years, he broadened his musical knowledge by delving into The Coasters and Chuck Berry, as well as his favorite band of all-time, Led Zeppelin. He also cites legendary sessions in Muscle Shoals as an influence, for himself and for every musician in the region.
“As somebody who’s here in Alabama, there’s probably not a week that goes by where we don’t remember our roots -- where we come from musically, and we share that sense of pride that all these great musicians made music in our home state,” he says.
Rounding out the Revival lineup on the road are bassist Quintin Berry, guitarist Morris Barosa, and drummer Chris Ozuna. Lumpkin indicates that the band name represents their musical mission: “We want to lift people’s spirits. When we leave the show, we want to leave people like we’ve lifted their spirits. For me, that’s a very important part of music.”
Even with an electrifying new album to his credit, Lumpkin says he still plays acoustic guitar pretty much every day, chalking it up to discipline and the desire to express himself.
“I tend to let things evolve and that to me is the ultimate pleasure in music,” he says. “You don’t get tired of it. You are a living, breathing creature and you are constantly taking on new light. That’s what I do with music – constantly take on new light. That’s the experience. I like learning old songs and music from my influences, but there’s nothing like something that is your own.”