Known for its towering steel factories, ironclad work ethic, and hometown pride, Pittsburgh serves as the perfect backdrop for country music. It was only a matter of time before City of Bridges gave the genre a new voice. Meet Justin Fabus. Capturing country spirit with soul and style, the singer and songwriter shares thirteen honest and heartfelt anthems on his 2018 independent full-length debut, Remedy.
“To me, country is all about songwriting,” he exclaims. “It’s hard-working. It’s blue-collar. That’s Pittsburgh in a nutshell. I write what I live. When I sing my songs, I feel them, and I mean them.”
As a result of that dedication, he’s quietly built a growing fan base since first arriving in 2013. Collecting his Save Me and self-titled EPs into one release, 2016’s Justin Fabus bowed at #3 on iTunes Top Country Albums chart upon arrival. Between headlining countless shows and sharing bills alongside the likes of Gary Allan, Randy Houser, and Craig Campbell, he lit up the stage at the 2017 CMA Music Festival as a touted “Emerging Artist.” Along the way, he attracted critical acclaim and landed looks from AXS, The Boot, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and more.
When it came time to begin recording Remedy, Justin decided to switch up his process and welcome songwriting collaborators such as Joe Henry [Frank Sinatra, John Denver, Garth Brooks] and Tony Lucca of The Voice into the fold. Recording with producer Matt Very at Very Tight Recordings in Pittsburgh, he bucked the usual trend of utilizing studio musicians and would be backed by his live band—Miguel Garcia [lead guitar], Austin Ostiguy [keys], Travis Butler [drums], Ryan Yingst[bass], and Joe Minor [pedal steel].
Capitalizing on intense chemistry, they tracked the entire album in only three weeks.
“Everybody was gelling in the studio,” he goes on. “I wanted to take my guys in the studio so we could preserve the sound. We got it done and got it out. The vibes are definitely there.”
He introduces the album with the title track and first single “Remedy.” Over a bluesy twang, glistening piano, and a simmering rhythm, his expansive delivery takes hold as he croons, “Come on baby, let me be your remedy.”
“It’s about wanting to fix another person,” he explains. “At the time, I was seeing someone. She had just gotten out of a really terrible relationship where this guy broke her down. If somebody has been hurt, they expect everybody to hurt them. On the other side, it’s like I was already in a hole trying to climb out. I think everybody has been in that situation.”
A charged-up rock riff punctuated by organ fuels the fiery “Understand.” Co-written with Henry, it remains both urgent and undeniably personal.
“When we were in the studio, Joe asked me about what was going on in my personal life,” he recalls. “My mom had just gotten diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was in the middle of treatment, but she didn’t want me to take any time off from my career. I was thinking about all of that. It discusses how we all have the same problems and we should understand that. We’re in this together.”
Elsewhere, the rip-roaring guitar of “Pick Me Up” details “how strong a woman’s hold on you can be.” Meanwhile, he tapped Lucca’s talents on “Come Around.” Driven by a propulsive backbeat, the song tells another relatable tale.
“We wrote about a situation where you’re waiting around for this person to come around,” he goes on. “We’ve all been there—you’re just hoping someone will change.”
In the end, Pittsburgh and country have got a new hometown hero.
“When I hear a certain song, it takes me back to a moment,” he leaves off. “That’s why I became a songwriter. It’s why I love country. I hope can contribute a soundtrack to people’s lives.”
- Rick Florino