“I feel like I’ve got a loaded cannon,” says up-and-coming Warner Music Nashville artist Cale Dodds. “Be honest and be excellent was always my main goal, but things took a turn when I really started fueling the music with my truth.”
In 2019, that turn is becoming more and more apparent. After scoring early success with fans via streaming platforms and out on the road, the preamble to Dodds’ career is over, and the first chapter is set to begin. He’s got a brand new single and some of the biggest live shows of his career on tap. And if he’s honest, Dodds likes where this is going.
A natural-born entertainer and native of Columbus, Georgia, Dodds came by his love of country the old-fashioned way – in a boat, listening to his dad’s favorite tunes over lazy weekend fishing trips. Meanwhile, his mother had a Tom Petty CD stuck in her car for Dodds’ entire childhood – plus an abiding love for Top 40 radio – and when the youngster took hold of his grandfather’s acoustic guitar at age 12, he began fusing it all into something uniquely suited to today’s world.
Joining a band with his older brother (and current drummer), the Dodds boys started booking gigs locally – their first was a middle school dance – and quickly developed a taste for the thrill of the stage. By 17 he was spending every spare moment on the road and soon made his way to Nashville for good, developing a fluid-smooth style of country inspired by his Southern roots, the infectious energy of his own personality and the musical truth he’s sought since the beginning. There, Dodds recorded and released two independent EPs and began honing his songwriting chops.
“I went to bed dreaming about being onstage and woke up with a song in my head,” he explains about his early days in Music City.
In 2015, A Thousand Horses took his co-penned “(This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial” to No. 23 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, turning heads inside the industry and landing Dodds publishing and management deals. But in 2017, he began telling his story in earnest.
Signed with Warner Music Nashville, he’s since put out eight original tracks – including his first charting radio single, the cleverly cool breakup ballad, “Take You Back.” CMT named Dodds a #18for2018 Artist and Rolling Stone hailed him as a “New Country Artist You Need To Know.” Then he hit the road again, crisscrossing the nation and racking up more than 30 million digital streams in the process. And now, he’s ready to turn the page once more.
Co-written with hit makers Nicolle Galyon and busbee, Dodds’ new single is “I Like Where This Is Going” – a steamy, uptempo standout blending romantic nostalgia with a pure sense of excitement for where love may lead. Equally adept at rocking arenas and warming hearts for a peaceful night at home, Dodds describes it as “rock ‘n’ roll with a country soul,” and says it’s all about anticipation.
“I’ve always wanted my music to sound how it feels, because the lyrics of my songs are my stories,” he explains. “This song feels like the last song at prom before the lights come up. You don’t really know what’s going to happen next, but you can tell it’s going to be good. It’s a song about that young-love moment you can feel at any age.”
As a songwriter, Dodds says he’s always tried to focus more on the mortar than the brick, and “I Like Where This Is Going” proves the point. It places the listener right in the moment with him, but also allows plenty of room for fans to make the story their own.
“I’ve always been a fan of guys like Merle Haggard and Bruce Springsteen,” he says. “They would paint this world through music that you could live in – even if you’d never lived in it yourself – and that’s what I want to do. Sometimes you feel like you’ve got it right lyrically, sometimes you feel like you’ve got it right musically, but the ones that connect are the ones where you truly get both. This is one of those rare moments.”
Without a doubt, the track moves the needle forward for Dodds, building on the energy of 2018’s flirty tune “What We Gonna Do About It” and the personal honesty of “Where I Get It From.” It marks another giant leap for the young artist, who this year was named an “Artist to Watch” by Pandora, and there’s more new music on the way.
As Dodds prepares to start chapter one with an increasingly mature sound and some of his heaviest-hitting tour dates yet, he thinks back to his earliest days as a musician, enthralled with the rush of the stage and the chance to express his truth, and knows nothing has really changed. “People come to live shows for two hours trying to forget,” he says. “And in those two hours I try to give them something to remember.”
“‘I Like Where This Is Going’ is about my story, but I’d love for fans to make it their song,” he goes on. “I hope it becomes the soundtrack to an unforgettable night, and gives them a new kind of energy to take with them when it’s over. I hope it bridges the gap between where we are, and where we’re going.”