Coming back from his 2019 full-length album — Ebb Tide — is Atlanta-based singer-songwriter Joe Pope. His latest addition to his traditional indie-folk discography is his EP — Virginia Highland Road — songs written over the days spent in isolation.
The EP’s title track should go on to become favourites for all of Pope’s fans, if not one of the tracks that he is remembered by. The three-minute track borrows thematic inspirations from classics such as Rocky Mountain High and Starwood in Aspen, in its references of eventual homecoming and the feeling of familiar comfort with one’s native surroundings. Pope’s composition of the track consists of the attractive Americana soundscape, accompanied by the singer himself’s vintage sonic abilities, which gives it that endearing early 90s country-folk tone. The guitar is the dominant instrument in the track — occasionally accompanied by the strings — making it a truly enjoyable acoustic escapade into the traditional American country landscape. Virginia Highland Road is a representation of the comfort and familiarity of home, and the eager anticipation of homecoming to be in the midst of people and things who make it home.
We spoke to Joe about his takes on the track and the future of his musical pursuits. Here is a transcript of the tête-à-tête:
1. What were the motivations for making this track the title track of your EP?
Each song on the EP has its own essence. “Skipping Stones” is about reconciling with the younger version of ourselves. “Hurricane” is about the power of a movement and how the voices of many can change the course of history, “Morning Rain” is about finding solace in the little things around us, and how lucky it feels to be alive. “Scenery” (Only available at joepopemusic.com) is a story of infidelity, overcoming one’s own demons, and finding a new life on the other side. But “Virginia Highland Road” is the love song on the track, and it’s about coming home.
2. How would you describe the track to a listener without its review?
“Virginia Highland Road” is more of an idea than a real place. There actually is no “VHR” that I know of, but there is an area known as the Virginia Highlands, which is a bustling little community at the crossroads of Virginia and Highland Roads with restaurants, bars and shops in Atlanta, Georgia. Whenever I get there, I know home isn’t very far away. The song is about coming home to the ones we love, wherever your VHR might be. I would hope everyone has a place like that, and that’s the inspiration.
3. We noticed the characteristics of country-folk/Americana in the track. Are there some performers in those genres that you draw inspiration from?
There are a lot of artists I draw inspiration from… Nathaniel Rateliff, Ray LaMontagne, The Lumineers, Bob Dylan, America, just to name a few. But I also find a great deal of inspiration from Indie Artists I meet every day now. I’m always learning from them and they definitely impact my own music.
4. This is your first EP since your previous album ‘Ebb Tide’. How would you say your musical inclinations towards specific genres and styles evolved since then?
Great question! This past year over the pandemic was a unique time in music. I think a lot of us became more connected on a global level with other artists and at the same time, we found ourselves drawn toward our own home and families. I’ve seen my own style develop over this past year, and it embraces this idea of home and my own roots, drawing on the music I heard when I was growing up and the heritage of where I came from here in Georgia.
5. What does the future of Joe Pope’s discography look like? Previously, we noticed the release of a few tracks followed by a full-length album. Is the EP suggestive of a possible upcoming album?
I’m taken with this idea of the ever-developing album. There are 5 songs on this physical EP, but I can definitely envision following up with a full set of 10 to 12 songs released as a full album. I’ve released this particular set of my most popular songs as an EP because they share the same style and instrumentation and because my listeners seem to like them. I would love to put together a full album along a similar vein if folks would like more of what I’m writing. At some point, as my style continues to evolve, maybe that would be the start of something new.