Kelly moved to Nashville at 17 after a childhood living everywhere from Belgium to his home state of South Carolina, spending time in a jam band, devouring Johnny Cash and scoring songwriter cuts for the likes of Tim McGraw. His first EP, Halloween, made healthy headway but it’s on this debut LP, Dying Star, where he truly settles into his voice. Written in the wake of an overdose and telling a narrative story from deep, dangerous lows (‘Faceplant,’ a chronicle of bad choices on repeat) to his own breed of imperfect rebirth (the album’s closer ‘Brightly Burst Into The Air’), it’s a uniquely emotional and raw collection about our ability to build a new life from the ashes.

He says he found inspiration in the idea of destruction — in how a star, when it’s taking its final gasps of life up in that giant sky, explodes into a glorious intergalactic fireworks, sending its energy out into the universe as it breaks apart. My life’s mission is to just tell what my experience is. Because I really did make it out of the woods. Some people don’t.”