‘Songland’ Winner Griffen Palmer Steps Into the Spotlight With Debut Album [Interview]
Griffen Palmer has been called many a name through the years.
Some of his friends refer to the NBC’s Songland winner as "Griff," while others have called him "Griffy." His little sisters even used to call him "Griffen Dork." But there is one name the accomplished singer-songwriter can’t quite get used to…and that name is "country music heartthrob."
“It is a little funny to hear someone call you that,” Palmer says with a laugh during an interview with Taste of Country. “I guess it's only good to be called a heartthrob. There is probably a lot of other words I can think of that they could call me.”
Certainly, Palmer’s good looks are just a little piece of the big picture that makes up the guy from Ontario who has always dreamed of finding his way into the country music spotlight.
"My family was all super musical,” recalls Palmer, whose earliest musical influences included John Mayer, Elton John and the Eagles. “My dad used to play in bands and stuff, so I just always grew up around music.”
After snagging a scholarship to play rugby at Bowling Green State University, Palmer also began playing his unique brand of music at various venues across the Midwest before ultimately moving to Nashville.
“Being an artist always seemed more accessible than being a songwriter,” says Palmer, who recently appeared as musical guest on The Bachelor to perform his love ballad “Second Guessing.”
“I kind of had a better idea of how to sing my own songs for people than to figure out how to get a song to someone else for it to be on their record.”
Palmer appeared on Songland in 2020, collaborating with industry giants including Shane McAnally, Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, and doors began to swing open to several intriguing opportunities. One of those doors opened the chance for Palmer to release his debut album Unlearn, a collection of 10 sonically satisfying songs set for release April 28 that seem to fall right in line with what’s hot in country music right now.
And for good reason.
“Joey Moi, who produced Morgan (Wallen)’s records, also produced my record,” says the hit songwriter who has snagged cuts on projects by artists including Keith Urban and Florida Georgia Line. “We spent a lot of time trying to come up with some different sort of sonic ideas for this music. A lot of times, Joey would just give me a guitar and just let me play some stuff.”
In fact, the beginning of one of the album’s most revealing tracks, “25 to Life,” ended up occurring when Palmer was simply experimenting on his guitar.
“That first guitar stuff you hear is just me messing around in the studio,” Palmer says with another laugh. “I think by having some of those more Griffen elements on the tracks gives it a little different sound.”
It's these different sounds that country fans can’t get enough of.
“I think you can just kind of pull whatever wrapping paper you want on these songs,” he says. “That was the fun thing for me. I loved taking all these sounds I grew up listening to and were inspired by and just incorporating them into these country lyrics.”