Singer-songwriter Lee Gantt might be a relative newcomer, but he’s savvy enough to know a relatable song when he hears one. He found just the tune in “Ruined This Town,” his current single that’s garnering plenty of attention from radio and various digital platforms.
Succinctly put, anyone who’s ever been through a tough breakup will likely see themselves in “Ruined This Town,” where the guy in question feels that he can’t show up at his normal hangouts for fear of running into his ex. In essence, she’s ruined the town where he used to freely roam. The song sprung from a real-life situation experienced by none other than the head of his record label, Heidi Hamels, who also wrote it.
“She grew up in a little town in Missouri,” Gantt begins, seated in the office of his Nashville publicist. “She had a boyfriend in high school who just kind of ruined the whole town for her. His parents own like half the town so it was one of those things where everywhere she went reminded her of him. We kind of built on that.”
The song essentially flips the real-life script, but it works for either gender. “It is such a relatable song,” Gantt says. “It puts a different spin on something that’s already been done, which is the kind of song that always gets my attention. That’s really what country music is about, finding stories that people can get into.” And certainly, who couldn’t relate to lines like, “Where can I go that you don’t exist” or “These memories keep coming back.”
Those kinds of all-out personal lyrics first drew Gantt to country music. The native of Columbus, Ohio, who still commutes between the Ohio state capital and Nashville, gravitated to artists like Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw while in high school. Kenny Chesney, Gantt notes, caught his ear like no one else, and showed him the power of a strong country lyric.
“His songs really got me through some tough times,” Gantt recalls. “He’s so great at having songs that have so much detail. ‘I Go Back’ is one of those songs for me. The lyrics just paint that picture so well. ‘Summertime’ is another one. There a line in there that talks about the bank sign in their town. I mean,” Gantt adds with a respectful laugh, “who thinks of things like that? I am conscious of that when I’m writing. You want to get those little details and try to say something in a way that hasn’t been said before.”
He hopes to get enough tunes under his belt for a larger project, preferably an album. Gantt has released a previous EP, “Casa Blvd.,” which was inspired by his grandmother, who supported his country music dreams from the get-go. “I would like to release an album maybe by next summer,” he states. “I am focusing a lot on songwriting, so I hope to be in Nashville a lot more to work with some of the writers in town.” Also on the planning board is a permanent move to Nashville within the next couple of years.
In between commutes, you can find Gantt at clubs and venues around the country. He plays more than 200 dates a year, many of those in his native Ohio, and has opened for such acts as Dustin Lynch, Chris Young, Phil Vassar and Thompson Square. Gantt has also appeared at CMA Music Festival as well as county fairs throughout Ohio and the Midwest.
Right now, Gantt is pushing to parlay the early success of “Ruined This Town” into that all-important next-level step. “More radio stations are adding it,” he says with a grin. “And it’s getting good feedback in our shows. When we play ‘Ruined This Town,’ they’re singing along and that’s such a great feeling. It’s exciting to know that people are enjoying your music.”
For more on Lee Gantt, visit his official website.