Raised in the Appalachian foothills of northern Georgia, John King listened to a wide range of musicians —southern rockers like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Black Crowes, classic craftsmen like James Taylor and Johnny Cash, and ’90s country stars like Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson — and worked construction jobs as a teenager.

When he wasn’t pouring rocks at the worksite or studying in the classroom, he was usually at home, writing lyrics into his spiral-bound notebook and strumming his newly-written songs on an acoustic guitar. By 16 years old, he was writing multiple songs every week, often auditioning them for his friends around the campfire.

“A lot of those early songs were horrible,” he remembers with a laugh, “but if I’ve learned anything about writing songs, it’s the fact that the more songs you write, the better you get. I kept at it. I wrote a lot. By the time I came to Nashville, I already had a strong grasp on the structure of a good song, and that served me well once I got in the writing room with other songwriters.”

Always Gonna Be You, the full-length debut from chart-topping country songwriter John King, is an autobiographical album whose songs tell a universal story.

“Everyone has fallen in love,” says King. “Everyone’s had a broken heart. Everyone knows what it feels like to start growing up. I want to create music that speaks to people, so I write songs about the experiences we all share.”

Call it a soundtrack to self-discovery. Call it a coming-of-age story, performed by a southern son whose country twang is matched by his pop hooks. Whatever the description, Always Gonna Be You is proof there’s a new King in town.