Photo: Scott Simontacchi

Derek Hoke – “Destination Unknown” (audio) (premiere)

Derek Hoke's new song "Destination Unknown" is soothing, pastoral Americana reflecting an adventurous night's drive.

For the last seven years, Derek Hoke has found himself as the host of $2 Tuesdays at the 5 Spot in Nashville. There, he’s hosted the likes of artists like Shovels & Rope, Nikki Lane, Margo Price, and many others.

A consummate singer-songwriter in his own right, Hoke has been putting out albums since 2009. It wasn’t until more recently that his blend of roots stylings began to bubble towards the top alongside his contemporaries.

He found considerable acclaim in the Americana world for the release of his third LP, Southern Moon, in 2016. His fourth record, Bring the Flood, is coming out on 13 October via Little Hollywood. With it comes a total change of pace for the Georgia-born troubadour.

While he’s still blending styles as far-ranging as rock, country, gospel, and many iterations of blues on his latest, Hoke is also taking a considerably darker turn in regards to his LP’s conceptualization this go-around. Inspired by the current dark political climate, his heartland sound has become a bit more brooding and to-the-point.

With all of that said, his latest single, “Destination Unknown”, feels like a hopeful spark. Inspired by a night on the road, it offers a soothing inspiration amidst the heaviness that Hoke mentions as a driving force behind Bring the Flood’s creation.

Of “Destination Unknown”, Hoke says, “One the most inspirational places for me to write a song is while driving in my car. Pre-dawn. No radio on. Just driving. Usually west of Nashville. No particular place in mind. Hit an intersection and flip a coin. What’s down this road? Don’t know…yet.

“If a melody pops into my head, I’ll just start singing random words over it. If it’s good, I have my phone next to me ready to record.

I wrote the first lines to ‘Destination Unknown’ that way. Drove home and kept tinkering with it. Changing the key a lot. I knew I wanted to have a high note in the chorus. The key of Db (D flat) seemed to do the trick. Never written in that key before.

“The feeling of driving at night was the catalyst for the tune, so I just went with that.​ I made the scope of the landscape bigger, too. South Dakota to Louisiana. Well beyond my nocturnal driving adventures.

“The idea of just traveling. Not knowing where you’ll wind up. There’s something exciting about that. Also peaceful. And maybe at the end of that road, you find something you’ve been looking for.​”