For Michael Ray, if there’s a silver lining over the course of the COVID-19 quarantine period, it’s that it brought him back to his creative roots.
As a touring artist, being home is a rarity, especially over the summer and fall. However, with the curveball the pandemic threw the music industry, Ray was able to be home with his family for a concentrated time—where he rediscovered he returned to his roots, both physically and musically.
“I think this year, being the year that it is, we’ve all had to do some reflecting and you know, obviously massive changes to our lives and livelihood,” the Eustis, Florida native told Sounds Like Nashville in an interview.
“When I roll into Florida, sometimes it’s just for a show or maybe just a quick two-days. My parents are divorced, so split your time there. It really feels like you’re on tour and never on vacation there.”
Fortunately for Ray, because touring was halted, he got to spend some quality time at home this time around. From family hangs, to time out in the woods, to catching up with friends he grew up with safely, it was those moments collectively that [made him assert with certainty], “This is the direction I’m going. This is what’s been missing.”
The direction and missing ‘ingredient’ alludes to the Ray’s forthcoming third studio album, which he says will boast a throwback 80’s/90’s country sound—something that hasn’t been on full display in his last two albums.
“What I realized was, the most important part to me hasn’t been out. I’ve kinda pushed him down a little bit. I think all of this collectively was what inspired me.”
“You know, every album is important, but I feel there’s a lot of weight held on the third record,” the “Think A Little Less” singer said. “I felt for a while that everything I was doing, man, I was having a blast and everything was good, but there’s just something missing. You know? I can’t really put my finger on it.”
While no release date or album title has been announced yet, Ray unveiled the record’s lead single, “Whiskey And Rain,” in September. A honky tonk-themed music video also accompanies mid-tempo heartbreak tune.