Tracy Lawrence—a tried-and-true traditionalist—continues his 30th career anniversary celebration with Price of Fame, Volume 2 of a three-part album series Hindsight 2020. The 12-track collection consists of five new songs penned pre-pandemic, paired with five intentionally selected hits from his best-selling discography. To conclude, the closing two are “Unplugged” acoustic versions to re-instate his unwavering vocal talent.
“This was a really tough project for me to wrap my brain around,” Lawrence tells American Songwriter in a recent phone interview. “It’s hard enough conceptualizing an album at a time, that’s the way I’ve always processed things—putting them together and making an album flow. Usually, you get that anchor piece, one or two songs that are the real meat of the record, and write around those. But this whole collection was very challenging.
Volume 1: Stairway to Heaven Highway is a similarly structured 12-track collection, but the songs are all new. Lawrence wrote nine of the ten tracks specifically for this project as he planned his arrival at this pivotal career milestone. Moving into Volume 2, with the anniversary in mind, Lawrence felt it was time to re-introduce some of his hits.
With equal parts old and new, the enduring artist exhibits a steadfastness in his traditionalist approach to artistry. Splitting the project in half, which Lawrence found worked for him decades ago—like his 2006 No.1 hit “Find Out Who Your Friends Are”—still resonates today.
Reaching back into his past, Lawrence breathes new life into songs dating as far back as his 1991, “Somebody Paints the Walls” from his debut LP Sticks and Stones. “I See It Now,” serves as the title track of his third album in 1994, and “Stars Over Texas” is a single from his career-defining 1996 album, Time Marches On. Though these souvenir songs begin to paint the portrait of his past, Lawrence saved his marquee tracks—”Paint Me A Birmingham” and “Time Marches On”—for last. Those hits, along with others, will be featured in the forthcoming final chapter, Hindsight 2020 Volume 3.
Carefully crafted new songs compliment his re-surfaced hits, balancing his traditionalism with his sage wisdom. “I’m a Man” is a pride point for the artist and his wife’s favorite cut for the album. “She was blown away by it, because it’s just honest, and it’s in your face,” he says. “Men are very simple things, hard-headed, and sometimes we say the wrong thing. But we can’t help it—we are what we are. We’re creatures of habit, and we’re not that hard to figure out we are what we are.”
“Jealousy” is another deeply personal song, bred from watching a divorce unfold between two family members. As Lawrence has evolved over the years, he feels he has continuously torn down walls that allow him to share his truth in a way that connects him with his audience in an authentic way.
“I think that’s what country is supposed to be about,” says Lawrence. “I think we’re supposed to write things that we have personal connections to; I want it to feel real to people. When they hear my music, I want them to feel like the stuff that I’m saying is not just some manufactured crap that I’ve just come up with out of the back of my brain. It has substance to it, that it really connects with people.”
Album opener, “Price of Fame,” is a poignant reflection on the road-worn years and the sacrifices made to support his spanning country music career. Joined by fellow troubadour and dear friend, Eddie Montgomery, Lawrence tells a story, highlighting the hard truths with admirable vulnerability. The sacrifices that have been the hardest, he says, are things that he missed out on with his children, and knowing the impact that it’s had on them.
“As I’ve gotten older, they understand more and we’ve talked about these things. They were born into something that they had no control over. And my dreams have affected all the people that are around me. We’ve worked past some of those issues, and my relationship is great with my children now—better than it’s probably ever been,” says Lawrence.
“But, I did sacrifice a lot of those things for selfish reasons. And I just hope that the music and the things that I leave behind validates all the sacrifices that I’ve made because the body of work that I leave behind me will be here long after I’m gone. That’s what I’m trying to focus on, making sure that I’ll leave a positive legacy for the people behind me.”
Listen to Volume 2: Price of Fam from Tracy Lawrence’s three-part 30th-anniversary album, Hindsight 2020, below.