Growing up in the rich literary and religious environment of Mississippi, and then moving straight to the country-soaked musical world of Nashville, Trent Dabbs has many stories to tell. Like Flannery O’Connor with her short story collection, A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Dabbs pieces his own spiritual and relational questions into well-crafted folk-pop albums. The ghosts of Johnny Cash, old gospel choirs, Neil Young and Nick Drake can be heard roaming the halls of his songs.
With many stories come many different sounds as well. Dabbs is the kind of artist who can reinvent himself and his sound with every record. His newest collection of stories and eighth full-length release, The Way We Look At Horses, is more reminiscent of his 2011 Southerner, which American Songwriter described as “a loosely conceptual album about his southern origins.”
Dabbs says the concept for The Way We Look At Horses came from the idea of equine therapy, or horse-assisted therapy.
“It is said that horses help us connect with buried feelings from the past and provide healing,” he explains. “Many of the themes throughout this album deal with death, love, change and the patterns we've adopted to help us deal with difficult times. I love the image of the horse being strong and steady and using that as a formidable metaphor to get us through.”
An artist with a unique business sense, Dabbs has forged his way through an ever-changing music industry by uniting some of Nashville’s best up-and-coming musicians in the touring and recording collective Ten Out of Tenn. Many of these artists such as Mikky Ekko, Erin McCarley, Andrew Belle and Joy Williams of The Civil Wars, among others, have gone on to have critically and commercially successful careers as performers and songwriters.
Dabbs’ own songs have found a home on television shows such as Grey's Anatomy, So You Think You Can Dance, Hawaii Five-0, One Tree Hill, Pretty Little Liars and many others as well as in feature films. He recently saw his song “Undermine,” co-written with country music’s new golden girl Kacey Musgraves, playing behind ABC’s hit show Nashville.
Rolling Stone described the Hayden Panettiere/Charles Esten duet as “steamy,” going on to mention that it debuted at No. 7 on the iTunes country chart and sold 22,000 copies in its first week. In an interview with the magazine, Dabbs said, "Having [songs] in the show has just been incredible, because it highlights the authenticity of the song and even gives the writer that much credit."
Despite these successes, Dabbs remains a humble and avid supporter of his fellow musicians and anyone who is looking to create authentic art. As noted in Athens Blur Magazine, “As beautiful as the talent Trent Dabbs helps introduce to the masses, it’s his own music that merits the most attention.”
Dabbs’ desire is that his audience will take the time to listen to The Way We Look At Horses as a whole work. Though many of the tracks stand on their own and will surely find their way into scripts and onto screens, it is the full story that concerns Dabbs the most. In a time of limitless distraction and instant gratification, perhaps this is what our generation needs most: to sit on the porch with a glass of tea, take a deep breath and just listen.