“And so as these years roll on/I always come back to where I belong,” sings Sully Erna on the title track to his new solo album and BMG debut, Hometown Life, the follow-up to 2010’s Avalon. A personal, confessional, raw work which takes yet another stylistic left-hand turn from the music he has created as front man for the multi-platinum rock band Godsmack, Hometown Life offers a wide-ranging glimpse of Erna’s eclectic musical tastes.
Produced by Erna in his New Hampshire studio–now a one-stop headquarters for all things Godsmack–Hometown Life offers a departure from the tribal, world music feel and experimentation on Avalon, its songs more accessible, sonically and musically precise. Ironically, Sully used all the same musicians from that album, with the exception of percussionist Niall Gregory. Sully collaborated on two of the songs– “Different Kind of Tears” and “Your Own Drum”–with Nashville-based tunesmith Zac Malloy, who has also written for Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw, Jake Owen, Skillet and Daughtry.
Hometown Life allows us an inside glimpse at Sully’s vulnerability on a very personal level, and attributes most of his honesty and inspiration for this album to the love of his life, Sarah. Some songs offer fatherly advice, like the percussion-heavy “Your Own Drum,” an admonition to his teenage daughter to follow her own muse and not be afraid to be different, or trying to deal with life’s hurried pace, as in the rhythmic tick-tock of “Father of Time.” On the soaring “Blue Skies,” Sully reaches out to his loved ones and asks them to acknowledge the man and father he has become from the immature boy he once was.
As for how his solo career fits in with his “other band,” Sully is circumspect. “Godsmack is a very energetic, aggressive, powerhouse rock band. It’s for those moments when you want to scream and stomp your feet. My solo stuff is a lot more vulnerable, the grown-up version of who I am and how I process. It’s about finding acceptance for the things that don’t go right in your life, being appreciative for all the memories, good or bad. Sometimes these experiences can be very painful, but I do get some beautiful songs out of it. I’m just happy to be blessed with a gift that enables me to channel this stuff and vent it through my music. And not hurt myself or anyone else along the way. It’s just safer, more therapeutic, to get it out this way.”