Blythe Thomas

Two years after the release of his debut album State of the Heart, Patrick Droney is back this week with his sophomore project Subtitles for Feelings.

A followup record is always tricky, something Droney himself acknowledges, but he's long proven his knack for tapping into an honest emotional space with his music, as he caught our attention in early 2020 with his breakout single "The Wire." The world has certainly changed tremendously in those three years, and while State of the Heart arrived in 2021, Droney says he's also changed and grown since then.

"It's really been a process of looking at what time really means," says Droney, speaking with Variance ahead of the album's release on Friday (Aug. 25). "I think [with] State of the Heart, as a record—you know, it's my debut record, but 28 years in the making. And you end up looking back at your life and kind of almost trying to get back to those places, instead of being where you are looking from here; you're trying to get back to them. And I think what happened in this process is, I've been so much more present where I am here in this frame and connecting to those moments in my life."

While it feels like he's been waiting a long time to release this record, as Droney explains, most of the new material came during a time in his life when he was asking questions and searching for answers following a lengthy tour, including his own headlining trek with morgxn and Paris Jackson as well as dates supporting NEEDTOBREATHE.

"When I finished State of the Heart and I did the tours and everything, I was like, 'OK, that was the top of the pyramid,'" says Droney. "And then I realized I had to write this record. A lot of this was real-time pursuing [and] asking the questions and getting these revelations and traveling, from Scotland to London to Nashville or New York, just really living in these moments and letting them hit me like when the lightning strikes."

He continues: "But that process was super humbling because you kind of have to trust that it would come and—a lot like life—you know, what is tomorrow, what's it gonna bring? And when do I stop writing?"

The new album includes a handful of contributors, including production from Butch Walker as well as multiple songs co-written with Foy Vance, among them the standout track "Caroline," which Droney co-produced alongside Walker.

"We wrote a bunch of songs," says Droney of his experience working with Vance. "I went out to the Highlands of Scotland and Foy lives there. And you know, I first saw Foy Vance at Webster Hall when I was in college at NYU in 2011. And my mom came from Belfast as an Irish immigrant. And I just see this Irish man come on stage. He was opening for Michael Kiwanuka and he just comes out with an acoustic guitar and it changed me. It was so amazing and he's been a hero of mine and was such a full-circle moment to get to spend this week in Scotland with just him and I, and just using the ether and really learning from each other. It was so powerful."

Droney adds: "So we wrote 'My Grandfather’s Home,' which is my most important song on the record for me. And we wrote 'Caroline,' and we also wrote 'Limit,' which is really—people aren't gonna expect that from me and Foy. And a handful of others that will get heard. But it was this beautiful collaboration."

Blythe Thomas

The Lancaster, Pennsylvania native says he's always viewed music through the lens of television and movies, admitting he nerds out on soundtracks and how a snippet of a song "informs the scene."

"That's why I always start my shows with 'The Wire,'" he admits. "Because it just feels like such a beginning. And 'Caroline' has that same energy, like, 'Alright, we're going somewhere. We're about to start something.'"

So now that it's his music being featured in TV series and soundtracking important, emotional scenes, Droney says it feels like a dream, but one he's dreamt about for years.

"To be in this place, to have the opportunity and have a platform to connect with people, that's all I've ever wanted," confesses Droney. "And yeah, to see my songs in the shows that I watched, where I discovered music in, like Grey's Anatomy or something. And it's like, 'Whoa, whoa, I've got a Meredith scene!? Are you crazy!? And it's just so special. But I do believe in that power of manifestation, and if you're drawn to something and you lean into wherever that something takes you, you're going to find full-circle moments because you are following the path that I do believe you're meant to be on."

He pauses and then adds: "But yeah, it's a trip. These full-circle moments sometimes are a trip and you've just got to be able to be there to really appreciate it and take it all in."

See Patrick Droney's tour dates here and listen to Subtitles for Feelings on Friday, Aug. 25.