Ruston Kelly's highly anticipated full-length debut, Dying Star, was released September 7, 2018 on Rounder Records. Dying Star was co-produced by Kelly and Jarrad K (Kate Nash, Weezer) and recorded at Sonic Ranch in El Paso, TX. It includes 14 songs written/co-written by Kelly and features Kelly (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, xylophone, harmonica), Jarrad K (12-string guitar, background vocals, electric guitar, Rhodes), Tim Kelly (pedal steel), Ian Fitchuk (piano, organ, drums, percussion), Eli Beaird (bass) and Kyle Ryan (banjo) as well as background vocals from Jon Green, Natalie Hemby, Kacey Musgraves, Kate York, Abby Sevigny and Joy Williams.
Of the album, Kelly comments, "A lot of my music is focused on suffering, or trying to understand the human condition through the lens of suffering...which probably sounds totally depressing, but it's actually the flipside of that. Sometimes you've gotta go into that darkness -- you need to get lost and then figure out for yourself how to find your way back. That's the only way we can find pure joy, and really be thankful for the life we've been given."
The release of Dying Star follows a breakout year for the Nashville-based artist, whose debut EP, Halloween, was released last April to widespread acclaim. Of the music, Rolling Stone praised, ."..shows a powerful grasp on storytelling gleaned from his love of the Carter Family and Townes Van Zandt, but also a more ragged rock & roll soul: it's Americana, if your Americana is Bruce Springsteen with an acoustic guitar, sung by someone who spins a little heavy metal too," while the HuffPost declared, "simultaneously current and effortlessly timeless."
Born in South Carolina, Kelly started playing guitar under the guidance of his dad, Tim "TK" Kelly, a pedal steel guitarist who now performs in his band. Since his father worked for a paper mill and often changed job locations, Kelly grew up frequently moving, living everywhere from Alabama to Belgium, including time in Michigan -- where the young one-time figure skater went to train with an Olympic coach in the hope of furthering his career, and where he first began writing songs. At 17, he moved to Nashville to live with his sister and went on to land a publishing deal with BMG Nashville, placing songs with several high-profile artists.