a literary review
Justin Wells is a songwriter from Lexington, Kentucky. To date, Wells has released one solo record, Dawn in the Distance, and four albums as singer-songwriter for Lexington’s alt-country/southern rock band Fifth on the Floor. He has worked with notable producers like Duane Lundy (Sturgill Simpson, Joe Pug) and Shooter Jennings. In 2016, his song “The Dogs” was named song of the year by Saving Country Music. Here is Wells discussing his haunting ballad, “Still No Rain”:
“Still No Rain” is the fourth part of a story I’ve told across my albums (the previous three on Fifth on the Floor albums). The protagonist to that point was this wandering vagabond type, who turned out to be less wandering and more fleeing, both literally and morally. He’d killed his love and her lover, and in the third part of the story, a mob had found out his past and caught up to him. They ultimately hanged the man.
Skip to “Still No Rain, pt. 4.” The previous songs had been minor key, and somewhat dark. I wanted to flip that a bit sonically and bring a kind of lighter touch to the song, both with major-key chords and with choices in the studio. For instance, the kick drum on this song is actually a suitcase, the snare a seat-pad of a stool. The story itself is a look at the town that killed the man. Clouds hang over the town, but it never rains. This is some sort of judgment or curse, what have you. The story started with a “justice,” the man taking two lives after discovering their infidelity. This begat a second justice (the town lynching the man), which begat a third justice (the town being cursed).
From a songwriter perspective, the fun part and challenge for me with “Still No Rain” was connecting it to the previous three songs in story and in style, without retreading too much. From simply a writer’s perspective, I wanted to show both the idea of a “good guy” and the concept of justice are absolutely not absolute, and at worst can cause a chain of events that are heavier than whatever perceived slight started the whole thing.