Most musicians leave their hometown to make it in the big city. Cory Lamb found inspiration the other way- just as the pop-rock singer was fulfilling his wildest musical ambitions in Los Angeles (his own band, a big-name producer, serious label interest), he decided to return to Arkansas. Back home, Lamb finally found HIS voice. "It's quiet but there are also a lot of creative people in the state," says the frontman, who you may have caught on recent tours with everyone from Secondhand Serenade to Ryan Cabrera. "Their creativity is pushing my creativity."
The basis for Lamb's sound - an appealing mixture of classic and modern guitar rock, rounded out by deeply introspective and positive lyrics - can be traced back to his early childhood. Growing up in a small town in Arkansas, Lamb initially had little contact with popular music. "I didn't even know what Top 40 was until I was about 12," he remembers. Instead, he took to his father's record collection, soaking up classic 70's rock bands, from Chicago to Journey to Boston.
Like his father, mother and one of his sisters, Lamb sang in the church choir. Still, even with his strong voice and readily apparent interest in music, it wasn't until a school talent show that anything career-wise clicked into place. "That talent show was the first show I ever played," he says. "The second I did that, I knew I had to do something with music for the rest of my life."
After working with a few local bands and musicians, Lamb actually made the decision to switch into music production he now admits, "I had sort of given up the idea of singing".. He applied for internship in Los Angeles with studio engineer John Guess (Dixie Chicks, Rod Stewart, Reba McEntire). Fortunately, the engineer saw and heard something greater in his intern's future than mere studio assistance. "He just wanted to make sure I wasn't tone deaf before he took me on, so he asked to hear my singing," Lamb says. "I sent him a recording of a song I had sung at my sister's wedding, and he actually asked to work with me!"
After moving to Los Angeles, Lamb crafted some demos with Guess and a new band, recording nearly an album's worth of material and earning major label interest. But as time went on, the singer grew wary of the project's direction. For him, something deeper was missing in the music. "I think L.A. was just supposed to be my starting point," Lamb says. "It wasn't me. I felt like I needed to return to my roots."
Lamb moved to Little Rock and began working with some local musicians. It was there, back home, where he found his spark. "Arkansas is a small, quiet space. It's kind of great for giving me time to think and people watch," he says, "and it's a really creative place - I wish more people knew that. This state has produced everyone from Johnny Cash to Evanescence.
Since his return, Lamb has honed in on a pop-rock sound that's equal parts dynamic, catchy, beautiful and aggressive. It's also diverse: songs seamlessly shift in tone from orchestral to power-pop to rock balladry. His newfound musical sensibility has quickly won over fans - his single "Drowning" has nearly half a million online plays.
To really understand what drives Cory Lamb as a musician and a person, however, take a close look at his lyrics. The singer particularly suggests one of his new songs, "Break the Cycle." Says Lamb: "It's about figuring out who you are and becoming an individual, instead of just listening to other people tell you how to live your life. I think it's encouraging." For Lamb, it's certainly been words to live by.