A few short years ago, Scotty McCreery wasn’t sure what the future held. He had exited his first record label after a series of disappointing singles, and had no idea if he would join another one. But fast forward to 2020, and the road ahead is looking much brighter.
McCreery did end up landing another label home, and along with the gear shifting 2018 comeback album, Seasons Change, went on to score three RIAA certified Number One hits in a row. First came the double-Platinum “Five More Minutes,” then the Platinum “This Is It” and finally the Gold certified “In Between,” leaving no doubt that McCreery was back in form, and back on top.
Each one of those hits highlighted a new level of maturity from the former teen star and 2011 American Idol champ, as he grew into adulthood and prepared to marry his now-wife, Gabi. And his next single, “You Time” continues that story. It’s the first taste of a new album in the works, and McCreery says he’s tapping back into the can’t-stop-me spirit of his last project.
“I just feel excited, and I don’t ever want to lose that edge,” he says of what’s coming next. “Before the last album I had that competitive thing where I wanted it to be the best it could be, so I tried to get that going again. … We’ve been writing a lot and recording new mixes through this pandemic, and I’ve had a lot of time to sit down with a guitar for sure.”
“You Time” is actually more than two years old, co-written by McCreery with the song’s eventual producers, Frank Rogers and Aaron Eshuis. It’s all about needing to take a break from the rat race of daily life and reconnect with the woman you love. But today, that theme seems more than little ironic — considering the complete shut down of McCreery’s usual, jet-setting tour lifestyle.
“It’s like ‘Be careful what you ask for,’ for sure,” he admits. “I was just super, super busy coming off of ‘Five More Minutes’ and trying to build off of that, so we were on the road constantly, and Gabi was working at the hospital. We weren’t getting that time, but now it’s just kind of ironic because we’re getting a whole lot of ‘You Time.’ It’s been a joy for the most part, having that time with her, but it’s been unique.”
Even under the circumstances, needing some quality time resonates for McCreery. He and Gabi have been spending 2020 like many of us, doing fix-it projects around the house and slipping away to a secluded beach near his North Carolina home. So the “You Time” he’s craving now is actually a throwback to the “before times.”
“We would rather be on the road,” he admits. “She was gonna come with me this year with Chris Young, and we were gonna be out there all summer, barely come home at all. So it’s definitely flip-flopped from what we were anticipating, but that’s everybody.”
Full of gratitude for his fast-paced life – but really a flirtatious plea for a romantic slow down – McCreery says the track shows another step into the man he’s become.
“The last album was kinda me looking ahead to marriage and life with [Gabi], and the last couple of years I’ve been just writing songs in the now, reminiscing on how great they’ve been. I don’t think ‘You Time’ is a song I would have written five years ago, when I was in college and living with the boys. I mean … we’ve been dating since we were 17, 18 years old. So here we are at 27 and you just grow up like anybody, I guess.”
Likewise, it sounds more confident and more energized than ever, with a bounding beat, daydreaming guitar feel and a bright, buzzy vocal he perfected with help from his tag-team producers. It’s a step forward sonically, too, matching his life stage of life, but McCreery says there’s no secret to his studio-recording formula.
“Number one I love the song,” he says of “You Time,” and why it seems to jump out from speakers. “Since we wrote it two years ago I’ve been thinking it had the potential to be a single, and now here we are. But truthfully, I think it’s just because I believe it. If you don’t believe a song it doesn’t translate, but I wrote it for a reason, and maybe I’ve got a little more balance than the last time.”
Expect more of that balance on the new album, with McCreery and his team “a lot” of the way through the recording process. Like almost everything else in 2020, there’s no reliable timetable for its release, but he does know it will sound a little more traditional than his last few projects – with plenty of steel guitar and even the return of fiddle to McCreery’s band. “I enjoy taking a step back and embracing the country side a little,” he says with that easy, genial drawl.
But what he’s most excited for is sharing more of the man he’s become, especially since emerging from the challenge of a few years before.
“This is album number four and I’ve learned from all the different albums – what makes a song me, what makes an album me,” he explains. “Everybody has their thing, whether it’s party songs or relationship songs. For me I think it’s just real life, autobiographical songs, so with ‘You Time’ the first verse is me as a touring artist, and the second verse is Gabi as a nurse. There’s another song on the record called ‘Small Town Story’ where it kind of goes through the chapters of me and Gabi’s lives and where we’re at, so I just write what I know and hope people enjoy it, that they can relate. It’s what I enjoy doing.”