Celebrating country — both the music and the lifestyle — the hit maker started things off quietly. He eased into an acoustic, barstool rendition of “Country Again,” patiently showcasing his voice and the peace that comes with embracing your roots. But that wasn’t quite “entertaining” enough for the superstar.
As the song came to an end, TR got up and transitioned over to a much larger stage, covered in lights and with his full band waiting. Strapping on another guitar, he slid into his latest Number One, “What’s Your Country Song,” proving his stage-craft hasn’t gotten too rusty in the last year. Grooving behind the mic and treating the moment like there was a huge audience, the track also featured a dueling guitar solo and was full of references to iconic country hits — many of which have been honored at previous ACM Awards.
The tracks both come off of TR’s upcoming Country Again: Side A, which arrives April 30 as the first half of a milestone double album. Featuring a return to his stylistic roots, Thomas Rhett says the album is grounded in organic sounds and more “country” themes, and that idea was born out by each of the songs he performed on the ACM stage.
The reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year (who shared the award with Carrie Underwood last year), TR was once again on this year’s most nominated artists. He came into the night with four nods as both an artist and songwriter, including a shot at defending his ETOY crown.
The 2021 ACM Awards was hosted by Keith Urban and Mickey Guyton, broadcast live on Sunday, April 18 (8:00-11:00 PM, live ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.
See all of our ACM coverage right here.