As you can see above, the cover of Paintsville, Ky.-based singer-songwriter Sean Whiting’s “High Expectations” record, due in May from Louisville-based Eastwood Records, provides an apt trucking metaphor for the title, at least in my view. Though Whiting, over the approximately 15 years he trucked, never made the move toward highway tractor ownership, he’s certainly a man with high expectations for himself, as he puts it, like so many among the owner-op community.
The illustration work was done by a good friend, who along with many others knows well Whiting’s trucking history. “He knew,” Whiting says, “‘you’re still trucking, you’re just on a different path.’ I’m still out here keeping the roads hot and putting on a lot of miles, just not in a truck anymore.”
The singer-songwriter combines rock, country and blues influences and inflections for a unique blend on the record, for sure, including the rocking “Stir Crazy” track that Whiting says springs more than most from his time behind the wheel.
Trucking “comes out for me” time to time in the writing process, he says. “It’s not as prevalent there, but it does happen, and it’s usually on those songs where I think about the rush of it – you’re on the way to where you’re going, and you’re in a hurry. That’s where it comes out, having your gears wound tight and trying to mash the pedal to the floor.” Alternately, he adds, “it’s also moments when I’ve been out on the road for a time missing the family.”
I’m just looking for a little peace of mind, searching for a little downtime, Whiting sings in “Stir Crazy.” It’s good driving music, no doubt about that.
“I haven’t been driving” since 2016, he says, “trying to do this music thing full-time.” He self-released an initial album, “Finally … The Beginning,” available via his website, in 2017, and the “Melody” track up top from “High Expectations” sets him up well for this year and his continuing move on something he’s been thinking about for a long time. The obvious subject matter in the song is a songwriter struggling to find the words for a melody he’s crafted, and deciding it’s time just to get on with it.
A fine metaphor, perhaps, for Whiting’s drive toward success in music.
“High Expectations” was recorded at Fat Baby Studios in Whitesburg, Ky., a facility owned by Kenny and Hayden Miles, the latter also the drummer in Whiting’s band there featured. Whiting’s on rhythm guitar and vocals, David Prince of “Laid Back Country Picker” fame on lead, and Chris Justice on bass. Miles and Justice are also members of the band Wayne Graham.