Settling was not an option for Chris Young as he created his new album, Raised on Country. With his eighth studio installment, Young vows that it’s his most well-crafted undertaking yet, one where he continuously challenged himself and fine tuned the details to ensure the best outcome.
“Top to bottom, I think it’s my favorite album as a whole,” he tells Sounds Like Nashville and other media. “There’s so many different thoughts, there’s so many different ideas, things that I have said before, things that I haven’t said before.”
The unexplored topics he refers to take shape in songs that reflect him as a person, not just a hit-making artist. Though Young is known for cutting potent love songs, “Gettin’ You Home,” “Who I Am With You” and “I Can Take it From There” among them, he reveals there are only two love songs on the new project, both of which he didn’t have a hand in writing. He trades these love-themed numbers for more personal songs, the deep-voiced singer pointing to the title track as the album’s anchor. He shares how he and collaborators Corey Crowder and Cary Barlowe were on his bus during a tour stop in Florida when they penned the song that celebrates Young’s upbringing immersed in country music. It’s as much a reflection piece as it is a crowd pleaser, as the Tennessee native proclaims that the music of Willie Nelson, George Strait and Joe Diffie “runs deep in my DNA.”
“I was like ‘I really want something that can just be anthemic, but I also want it to be me.’ We were really trying to chase something that I have not said before, which is who I am, but also an idea of being raised on country, how people grew up, who I grew up listening to,” Young explains of the writing process. “It’s really special to me, it felt good from the first minute we listened to it.” Young adds that after Crowder played the demo of “Raised on Country” for him moments before he walked on stage that night, he felt an instant desire to perform it, a feeling that permeates through this new collection. “I’ve felt like that about every song that’s on this record,” he describes.
A song that carries deep meaning for the singer is “Drowning.” Inspired by a friend who passed away, the lyrics compare the pain of missing a loved one to being overcome by the intensity of the sea. “’[Drowning]’ is about, for each one of us, someone’s that passed away. A guy that was a best friend to me who’s no longer around, it’s the only funeral I’ve ever sung at is the guy that I was thinking about while we wrote this song, and that’s just special. I think there’s a lot of stuff like that that I really allowed to be totally me and also totally us,” he reflects, sitting alongside his “Drowning” co-writers Crowder and Josh Hoge as they celebrate their most recent No. 1 hit, “Hangin’ On.” “[It’s] probably one of the most special songs I’ve ever written.”
As Young has devoted a significant amount of time and energy to the project, he’s been intentional about not cutting corners, such as when he made the effort to go into the studio and improve upon an “amazing” demo vocal he initially planned to use on a song. “There’s things that we’ve actually gone back and done again because we were like ‘I think we can do it better,’ which is not something that I feel like I’ve gone out of my way to do in the record process in the past,” he says.
In addition to personal songs and fresh material, Young has also invited several of his peers to contribute their own voices to his passion project, unveiling a duet with Lauren Alaina called “Town Ain’t Big Enough,” in addition to an Instagram video that confirms Kane Brown lent his vocals to a track. Brad Paisley and Riley Green are also featured guests in the well-rounded set. “I’ve put in as much work as I feel like I possibly could and I want this to be something truly special, and I think it’s going to be,” Young concludes. “I really do think this is the best record I’ve ever made.”