Beloved country artist and award-winning performer Thomas Rhett returns to his songwriter roots with his upcoming record, Country Again: Side A. The 11-track album is due April 30 via Big Machine’s Valory Music Co., with Side B expected later this year.
Videos by American Songwriter
“Every single song on this record is what I wish I could’ve spit out of my brain when I was 19 years old,” TR shares on the album trailer. “These are the things I was trying to say. These past 12 years I’ve been on this incredible journey. But I think deep down, I’m still that kid that just wanted to write songs and play them for people. I think I’m just getting back to the root of why I ever wanted to sing music in the first place—and it was to tell a story and evoke an emotion.”
Since his 2013 debut, It Goes Like This, TR’s career has ascended to unimaginable heights. His four previous studio albums have spawned 16 No. 1 singles, nearly 10 billion total career streams. He’s received two CMA Triple Play awards for penning three No. 1 songs within 12 months, adding to his collection of trophies from the Country Music Association, Academy of Country Music, Billboard Music Awards, CMT Music Awards, and more. All the while, TR and his childhood sweetheart-turned-wife, Lauren Akins, became parents of three children.
Ahead of the pandemic, TR began examining the whirlwind of his last decade, considering the personal and artistic implications of his rapidly escalating career. Last March, stuck at home, the artist faced these introspective questions head-on. With the help of longtime friends and producers Dann Huff and Jesse Frasure, TR wielded this forced pause to reflect on his evolution as a writer and artist and re-center his priorities.
“For the first time, I had to look at myself and say ‘Who am I? Who is Thomas Rhett without a microphone or a guitar or a stage?’” the artist shares. “I had to really dig deep and figure it out. So in many ways, 2020 was a big ol’ reality check, a complete reset. And when I finally settled into myself and my family, and started to work again, it completely influenced all of my songwriting.”
Side A of this upcoming project is the product of this slowed pace. TR penned each of these tracks as personal reminders of what initially drew the Georgia-native to country music. Songs like his 2020 single, “What’s Your Country Song,” celebrate the communal threads that compose the country genre after the past year’s divisiveness. Intimate retrospectives, like “Heaven Right Now,” where Rhett deals with the loss of a dear friend, and “Where We Grew Up,” reveal defining moments of his past.
“Growing Up”—available today, along with “Want It Again” after pre-ordering the album—closes the gap between the 19-year-old aspiring songwriter and the award-winning country star, father, and husband TR has become. “To The Guys That Date My Girls” is a forward-facing check-in of the father he is now and what he hopes for the future.
“It’s about the crazy journey that took me out into the world over the last ten years and ultimately brought me back home, more centered and content than ever, with a deep understanding for what’s important in life,” says TR. “I’ve had a blast sharing some of these songs in their acoustic form during quarantine and am blown away by the reaction the fans have already shown.”
The artist seems to have made peace with himself throughout this process, despite the many challenges 2020 presented. Now, at 30 years old, TR feels, “I’m right where I’m supposed to be, and I’m happy to be there.”