Parker McCollum Has a “Handle On” His Music and Upcoming Album—“It’s the Same Ole’ Me”

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Videos by American Songwriter

I tell myself that I should quit but I don’t listen to drunks—a line from Parker McCollum’s latest single “Handle on You” that is exactly the type of wink-of-the-eye lyricism that has the country world falling prey to his charms and clinching him titles like “the next George Strait”— though he’d probably roll his eyes at the comparison. 

Despite his runaway success, McCollum remains the picture of a southern gentleman, entering rooms with a string of “yes ma’ams” and “no sirs” in his wake. He seems to deflect any mention of his impending superstardom and instead leads with the notion that he is still the same guy he was back in Texas, disgruntled about last night’s game and dreaming of taking a stroll around the family farm.  

He released his major label debut, Gold Chain Cowboy, in 2021 to critical acclaim. Featuring tales about, as he puts it, “love gone terribly wrong,” the album was one hell of an introduction for McCollum and only drove up the appetite for more from the Limestone Kid. 

But worry not, McCollum has already started to tease his follow-up project. Though the impending album is still unnamed, we do have an inkling as to what it will sound like via “Handle On You,” which presumably will act as the lead single for the work. 

“I was fresh outta ideas at the time I wrote ‘Handle on You,’ he tells American Songwriter. “All I had was a melody that I’d been throwing around a little bit, but I didn’t think a whole lot of it.”

That melody eventually became this mid-tempo rocker about drinking away your sorrows. He sings in the chorus, Tennessee and Kentucky ’cause you ain’t here to love me / I drink now that there’s nothing to lose / I’ve been fightin’ with your memory, I hate the way it hits me / I wake up every day, black and blue / After all this back and forth, a fifth won’t do / Yeah, I finally got a handle, finally got a handle on you. 

“When it came time to cut the record, it was the first song I wanted to lay down in the studio. To see how well it’s doing is unbelievable,” he adds. 

As far as the rest of the album is concerned, McCollum promises that what fans have come to love and know from him won’t be going away any time soon, but at the same time, he won’t shy away from adding in a few curve balls once in a while. 

“It’s the same ole’ me: heartbreak, love songs, and everything going terribly wrong,” he says. “I’ve tried to write about love going right but, it’s not as fun.” 

He continues, “When I was recording this album, I tried to throw in a couple of different things. I just didn’t want to be pigeonholed into a certain sound or certain style. I give them 10 or 12 songs of what they expect and then one or two that come out of left field.”

Looking back on Gold Chain Cowboy, the uncontested standout from the record, “Pretty Heart,” almost didn’t make the cut. When he first sussed out this slow-burning ballad he felt it wasn’t strong enough. It now bolsters the weight of more than 100 million streams and counting.

“I have a whole album called Probably Wrong and it’s still true to this day,” he jokes.

Though “Pretty Heart,” is leading the pack, the rest of the record is boasting similar success. Whether it’s the ’90s country groove of “To Be Loved By You” or the ’80s rock pastiche in “Falling Apart,” the album has much to chew on and leaves the listener with a bittersweet after taste as he weaves in and out of deeply relatable heartache songs.

McCollum has been bringing the album to life over the last year, playing arenas around the country alongside the likes of Thomas Rhett and even Strait himself—the latter of which was a childhood dream come true for McCollum.

“He’s top two of all time for me,” he says. “I can’t remember a time I wasn’t listening to him. So when he asked us to open for him it was a no-brainer.”

The rest of the year, and into next, will see McCollum continuing his trek across the country. Find his tour dates, HERE.

Though he may not want to be compared to Strait or any other enduring icon, McCollum certainly has the makings of someone who will be sticking around in the country zeitgeist for quite some time.

Photo by Tyler Conrad / Courtesy True PR

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