The first part of Thomas Rhett's new album, Country Again (Side A) has officially arrived, and the country star celebrated during his exclusive iHeartCountry Album Release Party as he performed some of the new songs live for the first time.
Country Again (Side A) follows 2019's Center Point Road and includes Rhett's recently-released title track and other previously-released songs like "Growing Up" and "Want It Again."
During his iHeartCountry Album Release Party, hosted by Bobby Bones, TR performed songs from his new album including "What's Your Country Song," "Country Again," "To The Guys That Date My Girls," "Sixteen" and "Growing Up." Rhett, alongside Bones, also listened along to some of the new tracks like "Where We Grew Up," the tear-jerking "Heaven Right Now," "More Time Fishin," "Blame It On A Back Road," "Put It On Ice" and "Ya Heard."
Rhett also talked about Country Again (Side A) during a special Q&A, and even answered some questions from fans who joined him virtually.
Country Again (Side A) is only half of the new music that Thomas has worked on over the last few years and so because he ended up with over 20 songs, he decided to break it up into two parts based on feedback he got from his younger brother. He explained:
"I have a 15 year old brother and I was talking to him and I was like, if I were to put 25 songs on the record, how far do you think you could make it before you got bored? And he said, 'I think I could make it nine in.' And so that's what made me want to split it up a little bit. And, there was just something about it that, there's so much music and so much story content on this record that I felt like just putting 11 out first and then waiting a few months and putting the second side out. I just felt like it was a lot easier to digest 11 at a time rather than 25 total. So, both ways work, obviously, but that's just something that I kind of felt led to do."
Rhett also added that he is excited to share Side B, which he teased may be out by this October, because it's "some of [his] favorite songs [he's] ever written."
TR calls Country Again "the most Thomas Rhett to the core album that [he's] ever made." He recalled, "There was no chasing a vibe, there was no chasing another sound. It was just like, this is just what naturally fell out. And it kind of started to fall out of me at the beginning of 2019, and it was kind of weird for a minute for my co-writers cause we've always written a lot more progressive type songs, and done a lot of a whole different kind of genres on a record. And, Side B does have a few different progressive things on there, but for the most part, man, I just wanted to sit down and tell some really honest stories. And that's where a lot of these songs came from. So, for me, even though this feels like going backwards, I think going back to how I originally started in this career is progressive for me. So it felt very fresh to do that."
On Country Again (Side A)'s title track, Rhett name drops Eric Church, one of his favorite country artists, in the second verse. He sings, "But last night, we cracked some cold beers and cranked Eric Church to ten/ Thought 'Man, it feels good to be country again.'" Speaking to Bones, Thomas explained that after Church heard the track, he sent a text complimenting him on the song, and that he felt "honored" to be included in it. Thomas explained:
"Every single line in that song was absolutely a hundred percent true. And, probably the coolest text I got after that song came out was actually from Eric, and he texted me and he just said, 'Wow Country Again.' And, I just said, 'Man, thanks for the inspiration. I hope it didn't make you feel weird, me name-dropping you in a song.' And he said, 'I feel honored.' And, to me Eric is just one of my heroes in this genre. And, it was really cool to get that text."
Elsewhere on his new album is a song that is meant to be a letter to anyone who dates his daughters in the future called "To The Guys That Date My Girls." Rhett explained of the song, "I had a buddy of mine visit from Charleston, and we were riding around and he was just talking about ... because he's got a daughter and I've got three, and he was just talking about what it would feel like the very first time somebody knocked on the door and they're like, 'Mr. Akins, I'm here to take your daughter out on a date.' And that's something that I think you don't ... it feels like a hundred years in the future to me, you know? Cause my kids are so young, but it's going to be here before I know it. And I really just wanted to write a letter to that person. So, I remember writing that title in my phone and I brought it to my dad and Josh Thompson, and a guy named Will Bundy. And, we wrote it in Alabama and I played it the same night in the show, messed up half the words, but I still play it in the show, and I knew we had something really special that night after I got to play it."
Another deeply personal song on Country Again (Side A) is "Heaven Right Now," inspired by a close friend of his and his wife Lauren's who passed away. In the song, TR sings, "When the whole crew gets together/ Memory lane goes on forever/ We twist a top and pour a little Jack D out/ I wonder what you're doin' in heaven right now."
Of the song, Rhett explained, "This is probably one of the toughest songs I've ever written. [It's] just about a buddy of mine and Lauren's who passed away about nine years ago and just really young and [it's] from my perspective of how life's kind of still moving on down here as usual, and I just wonder how much more elevated you are right now, and kind of goes into detail of just kind of what I imagine him doing in heaven right now. Well, I'm seeing these landmarks around town that just remind me of him. I've worn this bracelet ever since that day, and every time I looked down at my arm, I'm reminded of his smile and how infectious he was, just in a room and just making people smile."
Rhett also teased whether or not he would ever make a gospel/worship album. He said, "I mean, yeah. It's like I said, it has always been a dream of mine, and actually Chris Tomlin actually texted me a couple of days ago asking him, he was like, should we make a worship album together? And I was like, that'd be really cool. I don't really know the first thing about it. I know how to sing the songs and raise my hands. But, I've never really gotten into that before. But I could see, for sure, in the next couple of years kind of diving into something like that. It'd be really fun."
Photos: Alexa Campbell