Last fall, after months of not touring due to the pandemic, the five members of Old Dominion snuck off to Asheville, North Carolina to reunite and regroup. For three weeks, the band, comprised of Matthew Ramsey, Trevor Rosen, Brad Tursi, Geoff Sprung and Whit Sellers, spent three weeks writing and recording alongside collaborators like Shane McAnally in the North Carolina town. They came back to Nashville with Time, Tequila & Therapy, their fourth studio album released on October 8th.
This kind of album-making process was somewhat new to Old Dominion, as they usually write and record albums over a longer period of time while also juggling touring, and it led to an organic project that both offers a fresh take on their music while also staying true who they are as a band. The band’s Trevor Rosen told Sounds Like Nashville that, although they hadn’t set out to make a full album, the creativity simply took hold once they began writing.
“We weren’t touring, we didn’t have anything to do, so it was awesome to get out of town and get away from everything and have no distractions and just live together for three weeks,” Rosen told Sounds Like Nashville. “Every morning we’d show up and start writing a song, and then we’d usually get done pretty quickly and walk upstairs and record it. It was amazing. We didn’t expect to get a whole album. We were just kind of like, ‘If we get four or five good songs out of this, it’ll be worth it.’ But they just kept coming. We just kept showing up and ideas kept coming.”
The free-flowing way in which the album was created comes out in the project itself, as each song bounces to the next, all showcasing their own unique style while contributing to the cohesiveness of the album itself. The album begins with the piano-driven and upbeat “Why Are You Still Here,” a tune about the memories that linger long after a relationship is over. It then segues into “Hawaii,” a buoyant, ukulele-filled tune that finds Ramsey singing from the perspective of a man wishing to be back in Hawaii with a love interest. The inspiration for the song came from the Hawaiian-themed lunch the band had that day and a casual conversation between Rosen and Ramsey.
“I was just sitting on the couch and Matt goes, ‘We should go to Hawaii,’” Rosen explained. “He was joking about it. He was like, ‘We should pack all this and go to Hawaii.’ And we’re like ‘Yeah, that would be fun.’ He had a ukulele in his hand, and we just started goofing around and doing Hawaiian stuff, and we were like, ‘What if we just wrote a whole song that was Hawaii-themed?’”
The album also features “All I Know About Girls,” a track with a quintessential Old Dominion groove that serves as both an observation about the perplexing air of women and a blueprint on how to treat them. The album title shows up in “No Hard Feelings,” a song about a formerly heartbroken man who emerged through the darkness with only positive vibes thanks to “time, tequila and therapy.”
Then there’s “Lonely Side of Town,” a Motown-flavored song featuring the “Empress of Soul,” Gladys Knight. The song finds Ramsey and Knight trading lines as they keep their heart open to a former love should that person ever find themselves feeling lonely. Rosen told SLN that the opportunity to record with Knight came about somewhat serendipitously, as the studio manager knew her and Knight lives in Asheville.
“It was just a miracle,” Rosen says. “It seemed surreal. It didn’t seem possible, but it was just amazing that it fell together the way it did.”
The back half of the 13-track album continues the natural feeling established on the first half with tracks such as “I Was On a Boat That Day,” their latest single. The undeniably jovial tune is free and lighthearted, and although it may sound as if it came about from a band jam session, “I Was On a Boat That Day” has been in the works for nearly a decade.
“We had that title probably eight years ago,” says Rosen. “Brad’s always brought it up, like, ‘I Was On a Boat That Day,’ let’s finish that song.’ We just never did. Then he brought it up again there, and for whatever reason, it was the right time and we found a cool groove and it was fun to write.”
Other songs that help close out the album include “Drinking My Feelings,” a drinking song set to rock-influenced instrumentation, the nostalgic and thoughtful “Something’s the Same About You,” and “I Wanna Live In a House With You Forever,” a cheerful, sing-along-worthy track about the ideal simple life. The project as a whole features many styles and influences, but each track showcases the clever storytelling and musicianship for which Old Dominion is known. It also offers a glimpse into those creative three weeks the band experienced in Asheville, NC.
“It’s such a creative burst and there’s so many different flavors on it and it wasn’t created with one theme in mind,” Rosen says of the album. “I think it’s a window. It’s a little snapshot of Old Dominion in this little moment in our lives. It wasn’t written over the course of a couple of years like most of our albums are. It was written and recorded all in one little place, and it got written by all of us, so it’s a perfect snapshot of us in this little moment in time.”