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Track-by-Track: Tim Qualls Dives into His Alt-Pop Debut ‘Feel’

Tim Qualls takes listeners through a track-by-track of his debut album ‘Feel’ featuring hit singles “History,” “Grave,” and “Forever.”



Tim Qualls, photo by Paul Pelc

Alt-pop artist Tim Qualls is becoming known in his hometown of Houston for delivering rootsy soul music grounded in family, heartache, and a positive outlook on life very few write about. Influenced by legends like Ray Charles, Jamie Cullum, and John Mayer, musicians compare him to a “soul artist that croons on the piano.” His productions are what truly makes his music stand out – having been compared to Adele, Sam Smith, and Ryan Tedder. Qualls is taking his production and songwriting to the next level in his debut album Feel – out now.

Before treating fans to the full album, Qualls skillfully dripped three singles to his audience – “Forever,” “Grave,” and “History.”

“Some of the best songs come from the dissonance created when a song’s lyrics and tone steer the listener in polarizing directions.” -Tim Qualls

Taking ten years of studio time, life experience, and personal growth to bring to fruition, Qualls’ debut album is set to define a new, more refined and mature version of the artist as a songwriter and overall musician. In his own words, Qualls takes listeners through the inspiration behind each song in a track-by-track analysis detailing the creation of the album as a whole.

1. “Stay”


“This one is the very first song I wrote that sparked the entire album. I was sitting at the piano one afternoon searching for some new chords when I came along the intro chords to ‘STAY.’ Right after, I mumbled the words ‘I love the way your skin feels today,’ and right in that moment I knew I wanted to make a mature love song. Something that grown folks would understand. So this song turned into one, where I share a little bit about my own life, in which my wife always gets up before me leaving me longing for her to stay a little while longer in the warmth of the bed in the early morning hours. It’s one of my favorite songs I have ever written and I am really proud of it.”

2. “Forever”

“This one is about finding the love of your life and hanging on to it for as long as humanly possible. This one was also the one that set the tone for the album in the public space, the very first single. Somewhere along the way I found the sample you hear and knew it connected to the song in an emotional way, and it really sets up a very mature tone, that I am happy to finally arrive at in my art.”

Cover art for 'Feel' by Tim Qualls

Cover art for ‘Feel’ by Tim Qualls

3. “Feel”

“‘Feel’ is the real story about where I am in my life currently. I distinctly remember waking up a day or two after I left my full-time job to pursue music full-time, and I remember the feeling being so strange. I was so joyous, but also with a layer of worry. So in the song, I talk about ‘I think we may see happy ever after,’ because my life move felt so right at that time, and it still does today. I felt so strongly about the message in this song, I named the album after it.”

4. “Family Ties”


“This song is about family, and what they taught you, and how to bring that good into the world. It’s double-edged, in that it’s a song about missing my dad and his mentorship, but also the story of how my mom’s side of the family lives and is from another country, and how her story changed the course of my life, as well as my children’s lives. My mom and our heritage is a guiding light in our family, and I am so proud of being part Indonesian and Dutch.”

5. “I Swear to God I Tried”

“This is a story about two lovers who are in the midst of figuring out their story. They are at a moment of clarity and reflection. It really could go either way. To work through these problems or to give up. This started as an alt-pop electric guitar song, and turned into this really powerful ballad/drama that really moves the listener. We added the orchestral section at the end on a whim, which turned out to magnify the emotion even more.”

6. “History”


“A love note to my wife. There’s the saying through thick and thin, and that’s exactly what this song describes. Taking bits and pieces of my wife and my story, and laying on top of this really strong power synth ballad. The inspiration for the song was a song by Adele called ‘Water Under the Bridge,’ and this was my best attempt at making my own version of that.”

7. “This World”

“The lyrics really say it all. But it’s just about getting caught up in the political cycle, and realizing you are caught up in it. Which personally, I tend to do every 2-4 years. If it reminds you of songs by The Weeknd, that’s because we chose to go that route. It turned out to be a really fun pop song.”

Photo of Tim Qualls by Kirby Betancourt

Photo of Tim Qualls by Kirby Betancourt

8. “Grave”

“I love pop songs. And this one came from me working in the studio and finding the bass line kinda randomly. And once that bass line came about, the song kinda just wrote itself. And my GOD, we loved producing the hell out of this song. Lyrically, it’s about being afraid to reveal all the parts of you to a partner, whether good or bad, thinking they might leave you or judge based on the things you’ve done in your past. CRAZILY, if you slow it down, and make it sort of a spooky ballad, it turns into the really strong power ballad somewhere in the world of MUSE or Radiohead.”

9. “Safe”


“‘Safe’ came about from just being around moms. Yes, I said, MOMS. They are amazing, and powerful, and what a beauty they have. They are just too damn hard on themselves. And why wife is no different. I’ve personally seen what they go through to give birth, and how it changes them. The song really stems from that place, and talks about how a husband still thinks that you are incredibly sexy and amazing. And, even though you and your body have went through some changes, that your wife can still find the space with your husband to be safe and trustworthy both mentally and physically. ‘Don’t you worry, you’ll be safe with me.’”

10. “Mine”

“’Mine’ is another love song, but not in the traditional sense. My wife was really the one who pursued me. Not me pursuing her. And the song is from that perspective. She saved my life, and made me come out of my shell, but now that she has me, and has won me over, she will always be MINE. It’s a good twist on the traditional song format. PLUS, we had one of the best gospel choirs Houston has to offer to sing on the track to really take it over the top.”

Dawn Jones is the curator of the V13 imPRESSED Column. Previously known as imPRESSED Indie Music Blog, Jones and her team joined forces with V13 in 2020 to collaborate on an exclusive column on V13's site (imPRESSED) to bring a niche focus to the rapidly evolving indie music genre. Dawn is also the founder of Pressed PR - a boutique PR agency that focuses on PR for independent creatives. Pressed PR’s team works on a variety of campaigns partnering with independent filmmakers, independent artists, and independent labels. Pressed PR’s music clientele has landed in the pages of Billboard, Atwood Magazine, EARMILK, HYPE Magazine, and many others.