Though singer-songwriter Greg Cartwright has spent more than two decades touring with Reigning Sound and various other bands, his enthusiasm for life on the road has yet to fade.
“The best part of traveling is seeing your friends you only get to see when you’re on tour ... and looking for records,” he said earlier this month by phone, in the midst of a pre-tour family vacation in Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula. “Every town has those little record holes that only you and your buddies know about.”
An avid vinyl collector who deejays often in his adopted hometown of Asheville, North Carolina, Cartwright will most likely pop into one of his favorite record holes — Used Kids — when Reigning Sound comes to Columbus for its Sunday show at Ace of Cups.
“It’s like the quintessential rock ’n’ roll record store,” he said. “I know so many people who have worked there at some point or another.”
Reigning Sound, which formed in 2001 in Cartwright’s birthplace — Memphis, Tennessee — and has survived multiple lineup changes over the years, is touring to promote Shattered, the band’s first full-length release since 2009’s Love and Curses.
The current outfit — Benny Trokan on bass, Mike Catanese on guitar, Mikey Post on drums and Dave Amels on keyboards — came together three years ago in Nashville. Cartwright was there recording a promotional EP with help from Amels, who enlisted his bandmates from his Brooklyn soul band, The Jay Vons, to play backup. The group meshed so well, the rest, as they say, is history.
Though the band’s sound has been described as everything from garage rock to country soul, Cartwright said he doesn’t try to conform to any specific genre.
“We’re trying to play Memphis music, and that encompasses a lot — blues, rockabilly, soul, teen beat music from the ’60s. I learned all of that stuff growing up there and it’s influenced me,” he said.
Cartwright has earned a reputation over the years as one of the most versatile and hardest-working singer-songwriters, and the 11 songs that make up Shattered are as sharp and observant as ever. Some feature darker themes and were inspired in part by deaths in Cartwright’s family and circle of friends in recent years.
“I think the songs [on Shattered] are even more rockin’ and exciting live,” he added. “As we’ve started to play them out in front of audiences, songs just get tighter and tighter. Now I feel like we’re probably delivering the songs better than we did when we first cut them.”