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Thirty years ago when RJ Comer dropped out of music school he thought that was the end of his dream – but music wasn’t done with him just yet. During the next three decades, Comer spent several dark years in and out of trouble – that culminated in a weekend spent in a Mississippi jail – and eventually turned things around to earn a full scholarship to law school. Then his miracle happened: his dreams of becoming a full-time musician were not only re-ignited, but became his reality when his band was signed. Comer is now releasing his debut solo album, One Last Kiss, on June 15.
When music school didn’t work out, Comer’s path took a turn: years of violence, poverty, fractured relationships and suicide attempts followed. After a come-to-Jesus experience in a Mississippi jail, he straightened his life out, worked his way through law school and became a lawyer. Along the way, Comer kept coming back to music, playing with a band on the side – one that was eventually signed. He took the opening and stormed back into music. Though One Last Kiss is his debut full-length album as a solo artist, it’s his sixth release since returning to music full time, including two band LPs and two solo EPs.
Multi-instrumentalist Shawn Byrne produced One Last Kiss, and fluidly combines various themes ranging from somber, dark moments to happy love songs. The album features contributions from Grammy-winning guitarist Randy Kohrs (Jim Lauderdale, Dolly Parton, Dierks Bentley) on the humorous “Desert Mama,” about a hallucinogen-induced desert romp, and “Bad Day in Paradise.” Fiddler Daniel Foulks (Parker Millsap) adds to the joyful “Under a Lover’s Moon,” an upbeat love song co-written with Comer’s wife Deborah, inspired by their decision to trade in their urban Los Angeles lives for a dream to live in the Tennessee woods. Foulks and cellist Brian Sutherland contribute to “If I Could Be Water”—longing and regret fill the track that sounds at once profoundly intimate and cinematic. Written for the working class – whether they work with chainsaws or laptops – “All Over Again” is for those who work hard day in and day out with a smile on their face, putting in long hours for the sake of their families.
Offering insights of a man who transcended hardships few people escape, the songs on One Last Kiss straddle the line between traditional and contemporary Americana and blues. Combining his baritone vocal with a ragged edge, One Last Kiss shows the emotional and experiential range of a man who once only knew how to fight or flee — who slowly learned to live and prosper, and eventually learned to love.