Trace Adkins is set to release his 12th studio album, Something’s Going On, on March 31, marking what will be his first album in four years as well as his debut for new label Wheelhouse Records.
Last night (Feb. 2) at Nashville’s WME offices, Trace treated industry folks to a three-song set, including his new single, “Watered Down,” debut single, “There’s a Girl in Texas,” and concert staple “Ladies Love Country Boys,” which he told the crowd is a track that Ivanka Trump says is her favorite song.
Trace says his upcoming 12-track album is not a huge departure from the music fans know and love from the singer. He knows what’s in his wheelhouse and is well aware of what songs he does well.
“Mostly it’s a lyric thing,” he tells Nash Country Daily. “I have to make sure the lyrics that I’m saying are mature enough to fit where I am. I’ve always said if I can’t get onstage and sing it with conviction then I’m not going to do it. Even if it’s just a goofy romp about nothing, I still have to get in that headspace and be goofy and mindless and do it or I feel like a hypocrite. I always try to record songs that I can sing with conviction.”
The singer worked with producer Mickey Jack Cones on his latest release and says Mickey Jack forced him out of his comfort zone vocally. While the album was a lengthy process, no one was breathing down his neck to complete it, so he was able to take his time and make the album he wanted.
Something’s Going On boasts songs written by Tyler Farr, Craig Campbell, Old Dominion’s Trevor Rosen and Shane McAnally, among others. One of the tracks, “Whippoorwills and Freight Trains,” written by Phil O’Donnell, Jeff Middleton and Brandon Kinney, is a song Trace cites as the most honest on the album.
“It’s just a lonely . . . ,” he admits with a pause. “The last few years have been personally pretty difficult and I think ‘Whippoorwills and Freight Trains’ really speaks to where my emotions and everything have been for the last few years.”
It’s also a song that Trace confesses was difficult to sing while in the studio, along with another track called “If Only You Were Lonely,” which was written by Jon Coleman and Troy Johnson.
“I really remember recording [“If Only You Were Lonely”],” Trace says. “The day I was in the studio singing that one, something happened in the booth and I had to stop for a while. I couldn’t maintain my composure, it tore me up. It hurts when it happens but then you go, ‘Wow. Thank you, God, for moving me like that when I was singing a song.'”
The centerpiece of Something’s Going On is the album’s first single, “Watered Down.” Written by Shane McAnally, Trevor Rosen and Matt Jenkins, it’s a song that Trace says summarizes his current state of mind.
“Lyrically, from the very first line it really encapsulates and summarizes where I find myself, it seems, at this point in my life. I’ve mellowed out a little bit hopefully and calmed down a little bit, trying to stay out of the news,” he says with a laugh. “Everything about the song just fit exactly where I seem to be in my life right now.”
“I don’t go all in but I’ll take a gamble / And I don’t burn both ends of the candle anymore,” he sings at the song’s opening. Later, he continues, “Couple girls I could’ve married / I married someone else,” which he says initially struck him when he first heard the song.
“I’ve never told anybody what my favorite song on a record was because I’ve always looked at it like you put part of your soul in every one,” he says. “It’s like children, I may have a favorite child but I don’t want to tell you which one it is. That’s the way I’ve looked at records. This one, I unabashedly said ‘Watered Down’ is my favorite song on this record. ‘Watered Down’ I’d say really is my baby.”
Trace will kick off his 2017 tour on Feb. 4 in Orlando, Fla. His album, Something’s Going On, is available March 31.