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EXCLUSIVE: Charles Esten Captures The Essence Of Life's Moments In Milestone Debut Album. "I Hope My Fans Take The Journey With Me."

The dynamic, 14 track album honors decades worth of stories.


PHOTO CREDIT: KIRSTEN BALANI


When you have a decades worth of inspiration, you are bound to create one of the most dynamic albums in recent years. Richly textured and feverishly creative, Charles Esten magnates to take everyday moments and weave relatability into each verse in debut album, Love Ain't Pretty. Known for his roles as “Ward Cameron” on Netflix’s Outer Banks and “Deacon Claybourne,” the crafty and earnest musician is the one we feel most drawn to.


While it may be the title track, and kick off the album, Esten shared that Love Ain't Pretty was actually written last. Starting off with a simple lyric and a humble strum of a guitar, the track pays homage to the most dynamic emotion. "As soon as I wrote it alongside Marshall Altman, and Jimmy Yeary, I knew that the song encompassed what we were trying to say about the album. Capture the good and the bad and not shy away from it all." The humble track does just that, it manages to capture each touchpoint that love has on our lives. 





Inviting fans to find their own healing in his songs, the second track on the album A Little Right Now creates a relatable narrative. The song, that Charles admitted to us is the most Deacon Claybourne on the album, allows fans to find solace. "I was struck by the universality of it and my faith says that this isn't for this particular group or this particular people, everybody needs to hear this." The song also has a special connection to Esten's father, whom he said inspired the faithfulness of the song.

"I'd be remiss if I didn't add my father in this, he was a salesman. He said it was feast or famine. He would talk to me and say, we're in the desert right now. But every desert ends and you, always, we'll find an oasis." A love letter to anyone who could need a little boost, Charles connects. 


But lately all my road have been running out

And there ain’t no silver linings in these clouds

Help me Lord and show me how

To find the kind of faith that I once found‘

Cause I could sure use a little right now


Diving headfirst into the creative process, Charles co-wrote all fourteen tracks. Esten admits while all fourteen songs allowed his creativity to flow free, one song stuck out the most. Dedicated to his craft, the tender love ballad In A Bar Somewhere was written via zoom. "I co-wrote this one from a hotel room somewhere – in Barbados – while on location for Season 3 of Outer Banks," Esten told All Country News. "I was held up in my hotel room with my wife for eight days, it was nice to have that outlet," Charles laughed. The cinematic track offers up a dynamic look back at a love that much like the bar is now only a distant memory. 


Esten's goal was simple, to invite fans to be a part of his creative journey. While Charles admits that most people don't sit and absorb an album these days, he promises that his debut project has a little bit of something for everyone. "It is not about perfection, it's about the connection," Charles told All Country News.


Perhaps that's where the magic lies. Steadfast in creating music that he connects to, allows others to authentically listen. Charles weaves a rich tapestry of humanity through all fourteen tracks. Moments of hope, reflection and joy dance through each lyric and solidify that despite all his hats, Charles Esten is a born country star. 





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