On a day in which the pandemic roared on and racial tensions boiled over, Chancey Williams put on his cowboy hat and rode his horse out into the middle of nowhere.
“It’s a different world out here,” Williams tells American Songwriter from his Wyoming ranch, mere days after the release of his new album 3rd Street, which debuted at #5 on iTunes Country Albums Chart upon its release. “Things are pretty normal out here these days.”
He checks to see if I can hear him clearly, as sometimes his cell phone doesn’t get good service out in the middle of nowhere.
And then, he continues.
“If you ask me, the whole world could use a lot more cowboys,” says Williams, who once competed as a professional saddle bronc rider before pursing a career in music. “Not necessarily ‘cowboys,’ but the cowboy way of life, where you are hardworking and you are respectful of others, you know?”
In fact, on his new album, the song “The World Needs More Cowboys” touches on this exact subject, a subject that many might not understand unless they are a cowboy too.
“I met Trent (Willmon) a few years back,” says Williams of his current album’s producer, songwriter and a fellow cowboy. “I just click with him. I was getting a lot of song pitches for this album from other writers, but no one really understood what I was looking for. There is not a lot of country singers that have actually rodeoed. (Laughs.) It’s hard to tell songwriters what I’m looking for. Trent gets the cowboy way of life.”
And while Williams and the Younger Brothers Band has made quite the career for their collective selves, they still have an eye on the bigtime. Last fall, Williams signed with major booking agent WME Nashville, the home of blockbuster country artists such as Garth Brooks, Eric Church and Brad Paisley. And before COVID-19, he and his bandmates were slated to spend a portion of his summer on the road opening for a certain Mr. Toby Keith on his “Country Comes to Town” tour.
And yes, his new album also has him working alongside songwriter and acclaimed producer Jody Stevens, who produced Luke Bryan’s 2015 album Kill the Lights. And that collaboration can be heard within every chord of a song such as “Tonight We’re Drinkin’.”
“Jody (Stevens) is not a cowboy,” he chuckles, recalling the song that they co-wrote together and went on to debut at No. 6 on iTunes New Country Chart. “But I want to keep things fresh while mixing in with an old country sound, and he helped me do that. I mean, that’s what makes our sound. But yeah, if you take “Tonight We’re Drinkin’” and put beats behind it, it could be a Luke Bryan song. But you put a fiddle and a steel guitar on it, it becomes a Chancey Williams song.”
So, could 3rd Street be the album that puts a guy like Williams over the top? Could it be the one that puts his name in front of more fans just thirsty for an escape from their reality? And if it is, is Williams ready for that sort of stardom?
“If you had asked me 5 years ago that same question, I would have said yes, and I’m still saying yes,” he chuckles. “You just never really know how it’s going to work out. We have scratched and scraped to earn everything that we got and we love that, but yeah, we are always looking to take off on a bigger platform. We just want to keep progressing and getting better and working hard.”
But for now, at this very moment, he’s quite comfy on his ranch.
“There is a song on the new album called “Outlaws” that Trent (Willmon) and I wrote,” he explains. “It has a really old Dierks Bentley sound, and its about living in the country and people uptown looking down on you. But the fact is that we are some of the nicest people you could ever meet. And if you come visit, we would love to show you around.”
And then he laughs.
“We just don’t want you to stay too long.”