As a kid dealing with the restrictions that come with a genetic disorder such as hemophilia, Patrick Droney would spend many a summer day sitting in his parents' basement, surrounded by the relics of a time gone by and the sounds of stories told to him in the form of music.
"Music became my friend," Droney, 28, tells PEOPLE days before the Friday release of his debut album. "My dad was a session guitar player in Philly before he became a doctor, so I would sit down there with his vinyl records, reading the liner notes of every single album. To me, it was like folklore."
Blythe Thomas Patrick Droney
And it was this love of lyrical folklore that one can now hear in the 15 tracks that make up State of the Heart, a gem of an album Droney co-wrote and co-produced. It's also an album that beautifully builds on the inspiration the music aficionado found listening to legends such as Genesis and Don Henley and U2 in that basement of his, legends that were raw and vulnerable in the way they told their stories.
And now, Droney is ready to tell his.
"It's been a long journey to the beginning," says the South Jersey native, who tends to speak more like a poet than your usual run-of-the-mill songwriter. "This album is my hello. This album takes all of these experiences that I have had from the last decade and tells the story of what I have learned from them. Honestly, the songs have warped a bit since I wrote them. The songs are now meeting me where I am."
Blythe Thomas Patrick Droney's State of the Heart
And where he finds himself currently is in Nashville, where Droney has been collaborating with the best of the best.
"Everyone here gives so much reverence to the craft of songwriting," explains Droney, who has been playing guitar since elementary school. "The songwriters here have helped me make sense and articulate the experiences behind me, because some of those experiences were rather chaotic."
Indeed, Droney is increasingly finding inspiration in the messy. And it is the messy that he admits he is still recovering from, a messy that comes when one grows up and finds that life is filled with as much pain as it is joy, a messy that drives the vulnerability that one can hear on every note of State of the Heart.
Blythe Thomas Patrick Droney
"I spent my early 20s in New York City, and let's just say life really hit me," he remembers. "I went through an incredible amount of loss while I was there. Life was coming at me quickly there. I lost a lot of people that meant something to me there. I realized I suffered from anxiety when I was there."
But it was also there that he found that its these feelings that unite us all. And from that moment on, they became feelings that Droney has never shied away from.
"Any great art pulls from the hardships and adversities we go through as people," explains Droney, who enlisted the help of singer/actress Lucy Hale in the mystifying music video for the album's title track. "We all have our imperfections. We are more the same than we are different. And when it comes right down to it, we are all trying to find ourselves. Most of us spend a lifetime trying to find ourselves."
This journey to find oneself, however, certainly sped up last year for Droney, who even returned to that same childhood basement to record a few vocals for his album.
"I think the pandemic taught us all that time is of the essence," says Droney. "The pillars that we thought we leaned on don't exist. It's our connections with people that do. Live out loud. Be vulnerable. And most of all, make something beautiful out of the mess."