Song You Need to Know: Andrew Leahey & the Homestead, Airwaves

Just this week, Andrew Leahey & the Homestead played 10 gigs over five days aboard the annual Rock Boat cruise, including one on the main deck stage in the pounding rain. Such marathon schedules are par for the course for Leahey, a Virginia native, Nashville resident and occasional Rolling Stone contributor who has made it his mission to revive heartland rock & roll. On his new single, Airwaves, he celebrates the power of the genre and champions the still-influential medium of radio.

The title track of his upcoming second album, out March 1st, Airwaves is a blast of Tom Petty rock and, in the era of streaming, makes a case for logging off and tuning in.

I was raised on FM radio, back when you could still hear legends like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty on the Top 40. Listening to those guys felt like going to rock & roll school. Years later, that same sound big, guitar-driven, hook-heavy still feels like home to me, says Leahey, who overcame a potentially career-ending (not to mention life-threatening) brain tumor in 2013.

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Airwaves succeeds because of its guitar-forward hook and heavy-harmony chorus, with Leahey and his band fully embracing the nostalgia of the dial on the dashboard. Airwaves is both a celebration of radios lasting influence and a rallying cry to those currently making music, he says. Im hoping to remind my contemporaries that people are still listening. People are in their cars with the radios cranked up, looking for songs that either remind them of their own experience or challenge their worldview with a different perspective. Its up to us to make something thats worthy of that attention.

Leahey, who also tours as guitarist for Americana firebrand Elizabeth Cook and has shared the stage with Will Hoge, Rodney Crowell and others, used the music video for Airwaves to double down on his passion for radio: the clip was filmed beneath the tower of Nashvilles iconic station WSM.

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