Logan Mize Captures the Heartbeat of a Small Town on ‘Welcome to Prairieville’ Sounds Like Nashville
It’s always a marvel the story and life lived of a Nashville songwriter. To pen authentic songs, life has to be lived. For Logan Mize, it’s been a long but meaningful journey to contentment—which he humbly chronicles in his new album, Welcome to Prairieville.
Over the last decade, the Clearwater, KS native has seen the glamor of Music City and been through the infamous ten-year town’s wringer. Starting out as a staff songwriter at Big Yellow Dog, Mize signed with Sony Music Nashville in 2014, before parting ways and focusing on perfecting his craft as a songsmith. It wasn’t until recently, however, that Mize felt called to return to Kansas with his family—which, unbeknownst to him then, would influence the thematic throughline of his latest 11-track collection.
Out now, Welcome to Prairieville is narrated through the masterful art of storytelling. “Prairieville” is a fictitious town dreamt up by Mize and frequent collaborator, Blake Chaffin. “Whenever we’d get together, we’d be like, ‘What’s happening in Prairieville this week?’,” Mize shares of the album’s inspiration. “It was almost like our Lake Wobegon. It inspired us. Gradually, it morphed from writing about a town into a certain style of writing that we found to be completely our own, to where we could really tell that our songs had a certain stamp on them.”
Rich with heart-rending stories of love, pursuit, and happiness, the record encapsulates the core essence of a great country record. “If You Get Lucky” is a small-town boy’s anthem about dreaming big, overcoming odds and celebrating his journey, “Wine at the Church, Beer at the Bar”—which aptly opens with pipe organs—captures country music’s juxtapositional themes of faith and alcohol, while the sentimental title track paints vivid imagery of the beloved imaginary small town.
After a winding auditory trip around Prairieville, Mize wraps the listening voyage with the thought-provoking album closer, “It’s About Time.” Solely penned by the singer, the autobiographical standout serves as a ruminative journal entry for Mize as he looks back on the highs and lows of a life well-lived.
“It’s about time I let go of a few things / It’s plain to see now I was never in control / So long to all that come of age anger I held in / I’m living free as the wind blows / And it fills my soul / Like a country road / Long way around / But I made it home,” Mize sings with a full heart of gratitude.
Sounds Like Nashville spoke with Mize for an exclusive Q&A about Welcome to Prairieville and his artistry. Check it out below!
SLN: What sparked the idea for Welcome to Prairieville?
LM: My co-writer Blake Chaffin and I have been writing together for about 14 years. We’re both from Kansas and have similar rural midwest upbringings. I had been reading a Willa Cather novel and liked how she had these characters that were all based on folks she grew up around in Nebraska. As a writing exercise, we made up a rural town on the prairie and started writing songs about what the folks there are up to. It started there with that song and led to a decade of writing songs about the town.
Would you talk about what went into dreaming up this project for nearly a decade? Why was now the perfect time to launch it?
Early on I think the idea was to make a full-blown concept album and just cut it as an acoustic project with some light production, but the timing never felt right and it always seemed like there were missing pieces. I would continue writing songs with this project in mind but over time it started to feel like most of what I was writing could fit. I started seeing it as more of a heartland-themed project than a concept album about a fictitious town. When I moved back out to Kansas nearly 4 years ago, I started feeling a lot more like myself. I wasn’t some guy caught up in the music industry anymore. I’m living out on a piece of ground, working on the farm, and hanging around everyday blue-collar folks. There is no rat race to get caught up in out here. Once I got settled and re-acquainted with this off-the-beaten-path slow-paced lifestyle, I felt like things just started coming [together] a lot easier. The opportunity to record this project the way I wanted to record it kind of presented itself and I just walked through the open doors.
Sonically, did you draw on any of your influences or musical heroes to dream up the sound of this project?
Yeah, you can hear some Jeff Lynne/Tom Petty leaning production style on a few of the tracks. My producer Dan Agee is heavily influenced by Mutt Lange so there are moments where that peeks out at you too….especially with some of the BGV’s.
What made you choose “George Strait Songs” as the album opener?
The song just felt like the opening scene, and I tried several other arrangements but they didn’t really work as well. With the song as the lead track, I was hesitant about its title and tried to change it a few times. I was worried that having George Strait in the title of the first song would cheapen the project or something. The title has grown on me but every time I listen through it still feels like the perfect lead off. Like you’re driving down some wide-open rural highway before you pull into Prairieville.
The title track is such a beautiful masterpiece. Lots of imagery and heart in the lyrics. And, that steel solo in the bridge! Love that. What was the inspiration behind this song?
Thank you! I just loved the idea of this town where all these rural midwestern characters could come to life. It makes songwriting really fun when you have a whole town full of stories to write about.
“Wine at the Church, Beer at the Bar”—this is a country song to a T! Could you talk about the story behind this write?
Blake and I have always tended to get pretty quirky with some of our lyrics and arrangements. We egg each other on mostly and usually have to reign it in and edit a lot towards the end. I don’t know that our cowriter on this one was prepared when I started firing off “brown tree snake, blacktip hawk” etc… Blake chimed in to finish it off with the “barnyard cats junkyard dogs it’s a jungle out there don’t get lost” and I just died laughing. I thought it was absolutely brilliant. I think he thought we were messing with him. That’s still one of my favorite verses on the whole project.
“It’s About Time” is a standout track on the album. You wrote this one by yourself, too. What inspired this self-reflective track?
Thank you! I gotta say that one just kinda landed in my lap. I was walking around the kitchen looking out the window just playing that intro lick on the guitar. The words came really without having to think about it much. The turn of phrase in the bridge kinda flopped out accidentally as well. I really like it when things happen that way.
You’ve been pursuing this country singer/songwriter career for more than a decade now. So, what’s the biggest life lesson you’ve learned through all the highs and lows of your journey?
Stay true to yourself. Never lose belief in yourself. Folks come along and try to shape and mold you and I don’t think it’s malicious, I think they are genuinely most of the time trying to be helpful. But only you know who you are at your core and you can’t compromise that ever. It makes for a much longer journey but I have no problem getting knocked down repeatedly and getting right back up, so I can put up with quite a bit of rejection and failure. I know now and I’ve always known that I will win, but I have to do it the right way and that takes a lifetime.
Finally, what’s one thing you want listeners to take away from this new record of yours?
I want them to enjoy listening to it and get lost in it. I want them to feel how I feel every time I listen to the “Into The Great Wide Open” record.
Stream Welcome to Prairieville below.