On June 3, Black River recording artist Craig Morgan releases his new album, A Whole Lot More To Me. The singer tells Sounds Like Nashville that the release has been a long time coming.
“It was about a year from the time we started listening to songs until the last recording,” he says. “The majority of that time was spent writing and listening to material. If I found a song I really liked, I would have the band work it up and we’d take it out live to see how I felt when I sang it. So, it did take a long time. We listened to thousands of songs to narrow it down to the twelve we came up with.”
The set’s first single is “I’ll Be Home Soon,” a song that he says is straight out of his life. “It is personal. It’s about the life I live, and not just this life, but also my previous life, being in the military. You would classify this as a ballad, but it’s one that lends itself to a mid-tempo feel. If you listen to the song, it doesn’t feel like a slow song. It’s a love song that touches your heart. It’s a sexy song that makes the hair on the back of your head stand up. I think it says a very cool thing – ‘Look, I know you’ve had a bad day. Just relax. It won’t be long, and I’ll be home. All your worries have got to go. I’m coming home.’”
Though the song has somewhat of a different sound, Morgan feels that his longtime fans will gravitate toward the song. “I think they will know that it’s very much a Craig Morgan song. At the same time, sonically, it’s something that fits with today’s music,” he admits. “That’s what we have to do. If my music is not getting played on the radio, the consumers and the fans don’t get to hear it as much. There’s a good chance my hardcore fans may go buy it, but we want to sell a lot of records, and I want to appease everyone. That’s hard to do – almost impossible.” He feels, however, that the lyrical content on the new album has something for everyone. “These are songs that I think can do that, no matter where you are in your life – your age, your finances, your spirituality, there’s something in these songs that you can attach yourself to.”
Indeed, A Whole Lot More To Me offers fans a chance to hear sides of Morgan they might have never heard before, such as the soulful notes on “Nowhere Without You,” which was co-written by the legendary Michael McDonald. “It’s hard to pick a favorite, but there’s something so special about that one. Michael McDonald writing it, you can start with that, but the demo I had was just him and a piano,” Morgan said, admitting that alone was intimidating enough. “He was in and out of the pocket, and the meter was a little funky, and I thought ‘I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know if this was meant to be anything more than what it is.’ But, if we could capture it, I’m going to sing the ever-loving crap out of it. I wanted to sing it so bad. It was just something that I felt. After we got in the studio and tracked it, it was something so powerful. It’s a love ballad, but it’s also a very spiritual song. There are some spiritual undertones that you can’t deny.”
There’s also a rarity for the singer – a collaboration – on the album, with Mac Powell joining in on the moving “Hearts I Leave Behind.” He stated that the idea of Powell joining him came late in the recording process, but he’s glad that it did. “I said when we first started looking at doing a collaboration, we first selected the song. We felt that the song was most suited for me to sing with someone else. Then, we started talking about who it might be, and Mac’s name was brought up. I didn’t know a lot about him, but obviously, I did know some Third Day stuff. I listened to his Country record, as well. I thought ‘I just don’t know how his vocal would mesh with mine.’ When you go from my vocal to his, how would they combine? Looking back, it might have been one of those things where I was so intimidated by how good his voice was.” As it turned out, it proved to be a natural fit. “When I brought him into the studio, and he started singing, it was one of those ‘God moments’ where you knew it was meant to be. It was divine intervention. There were so many people we could have used, and it worked out. When you listen to it, you realize how special the moment is.”
Perhaps the most moving song on the album would be “Who Would It Be,” co-written by the talented Will Hoge. The song raises the question that if you could spend a few moments with someone who has passed, who would that person be? Morgan says his choice is an easy one. “For me, I probably would want a few more minutes with my mother. I’d want more time with her. I feel like I didn’t take advantage of the last little bit of time that she had on this earth. I feel like I should have been more attentive and took more time off. But, life is what it is, and I made decisions to keep working so my sisters could be there and take care of her. But, the time we did spend together was wonderful. I try to focus and celebrate that. But, if I could have thirty more minutes with anyone, it would be with her.”