A Reverend “by way of filling out some paperwork online,” and a songwriter by way of a lifetime of interesting experiences, Reverend Justin Hylton is preaching his personal gospel from an Americana pulpit. Although he’s been sober for some time now, he draws from his wilder times to create “sad songs with a little bit of hope.”
His latest release, January’s Stubborn Nail, is an 11-song journey through everything from “Biscuits and Gravy” to “Hope for Tomorrow” and channels many classic country legends and bluegrass standards. After spending several years on the jam band circuit with Three Down Crew, the natural-born-picker said that “it was good to get back to writing and focusing more on songwriting.”
After a life that’s taken him from living out of his car to a sailboat in the Keys, there’s no shortage of stories to pull from. Hylton talked candidly about one of the more funny memories from those often dark times in a story he titled, “The Day that Jesus got Arrested,” and while every story isn’t so wild, they all contribute to the voice of a riveting story-teller.
Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and other all-time greats have always had a way of turning their songs into vivid stories, and The Reverend adds to that tradition. His list of inspirations range from Ryan Adams to the Grateful Dead, but the essential quality that binds them all is an honest representation of the human condition.
While an important part of Reverend Hylton’s appeal is his lyrical and musical clarity, the relationship he has with his fans is just as important. He recounts countless times where he would “play a show and spend all night talking with somebody about what they’re going through.” Between crafting hope-filled songs out of harrowing experiences and taking the time to talk with fans, Hylton isn’t kidding when he says, “There’s inspiration all over the place.”
Produced + Photos by Grace Rose Kelly
Film by Vince Gulino
Design by Elyssa Velez
Executive Proudcer: Liz Turcotte