For Down to My Last Bad Habit, his 18th studio album, it would have been easy for Vince Gill to kick back a bit. After all, when you’ve sold more than 26 million albums, won 20 Grammys, and earned 18 CMA Awards (including two Entertainer of the Year trophies), you’ve done it all, right?
Not a chance, says this musician extraordinaire, who produced his new album with engineer Justin Niebank. Down to My Last Bad Habit, available February 12, is his first solo album as part of a new deal with MCA, the label he joined in 1989.
“Forty years into this, it’s still as much fun as it’s ever been to play music,” says Gill, sitting in his home studio in Nashville. “At the end of the day, what I get excited about is doing something I haven’t done before. When I record a song, I feel successful if I’ve accomplished something new.”
That’s no small feat, considering that on his first solo album since 2011’s Guitar Slinger, Gill returns to his favorite theme, love in all its incarnations: Love sweet and celebrated (“Me and My Girl,” “My Favorite Movie”), love on fire (“Take Me Down,” “Make You Feel Real Good”), love denied (“I’ll Be Waiting for You,” “Down to My Last Bad Habit”), and love lost and mourned (“I Can’t Do This,” “Reasons for the Tears I Cry”).
The Oklahoma native wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on the album. “I love the diversity of the songs. Some of them are brand new, and some of them have a lot of years on them,” he
notes. Gill took two years to make the record, during which he co-produced the second of two albums (Like a Rose, The Blade) with the old-soul vocalist Ashley Monroe. And with steel guitar wizard Paul Franklin, he recorded Bakersfield, an album composed of the hard-country songs of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.
The new album likewise acknowledges country’s deep roots with the steel-guitar laced “Sad One Coming On (A Song for George Jones).” Gill, who approximates Jones’ clench-jawed vocal, sang at Jones’ funeral in 2013, but he was so broken up that he could hardly get through it. He wrote the new song as a way to assuage his own pain, and to give the King of Broken Hearts his due as perhaps the greatest country singer ever.
“If something’s country, I want it to sound about 1958,” says Gill, with a laugh. “I want it deep, as honest and authentic as it should be.”
The songs on Down to My Last Bad Habit run the gamut of styles, including the jazzy “One More Mistake I Made,” the down-and-dirty Chicago blues of “Make You Feel Real Good,” and the blistering “I Can’t Do This,” which hearkens to the pop power ballads of the ‘70s. One of the album’s highlights, “I Can’t Do This” captures the excruciating pain of a man who runs into his old flame with her new beau, and remembers the nights “I’ve seen that red dress hanging on our bedroom door.”
“Boy, you talk about torment!” Gill says. “But I like melancholy. It’s light years more fun to sing. There’s so much more emotion in it.”
As a producer, Gill wants every note to matter, and to feel equal to the others. He picks his musicians and guest vocalists much the way a film director makes a movie. “I’m always casting,” he explains. “I ask myself, ‘Who’s right for this part? Who will play it the best?’ That to me is the most fun part of making a record.”
While he chose such luminaries as Sheryl Crow, Alison Krauss, Bekka Bramlett, jazz trumpeter Chris Botti, Little Big Town and guitarist Sonny Landreth for this record, he also found new friends in Ellie Holcomb, Charlie Worsham and Cam, in addition to his favorite vocalists close by: daughters Jenny and Corrina. “I feel like the Partridge Family is rearing its ugly head in my life,” he says, laughing. “But in a great way.”
Fresh off a run of Christmas shows at Nashville’s famed Ryman Auditorium with his wife, Christian contemporary and pop legend Amy Grant, Gill reunites with Americana star Lyle Lovett for a 14-city tour in February and March, reprising their witty, wry, and musically superb concerts of 2015. In addition to his own solo concerts, he also does about 30 gigs a year with the Grammy-nominated The Time Jumpers, the sophisticated Nashville-based ensemble dedicated to revitalizing western-swing and classic honky tonk.
“Since I put this studio in the house, I think I’m playing, singing, and writing better than I ever have,” he offers. “And that inspires me.”
Though Down to My Last Bad Habit is sure to appeal to fans old and new. “I was meant to play music,” he says, summing it all up. “And I don’t want to leave anything in the bag.”
Father’s Day is Sunday (June 18th), and we have liners with many of your favorite country stars! Check them out and download below.
“Hey everybody! I’m Billy Currington, wishing you a very Happy Father’s Day!”
“Hey! This is TJ, and I’m John, and we are Brothers Osborne, wishing all you fathers out there a very Happy Father’s Day.”
“Hey! What’s up, guys? I’m Canaan Smith. Happy Father’s Day, Pops!”
“Hey! What’s up? This is Clare Dunn, wishing you a Happy Father’s Day.”
“Hey! What’s up? This is Darius Rucker wishing you a Happy Father’s Day.”
“Hey! This is Easton Corbin. Happy Father’s Day!”
“Hey! This is Eric Church, wishing you a Happy Father’s Day.”
“Hey! This is Eric Paslay. To all you father’s out there, Happy Father’s Day!”
“Hey! This is Gary Allan, and I want to wish all the dads out there a Happy Father’s Day.”
“Jon Pardi here. Happy Father’s Day to all you father’s out there.”
“Hey y’all! This is Josh Turner, and I just want to wish all you father’s out there a Happy Father’s Day!”
“Hey! It’s Kacey Musgraves. Happy Father’s Day!”
“Hey everyone! It’s Keith Urban, wishing all you Dads out there a Happy Father’s Day.”
“What’s up all you Dads out there? It’s Lady Antebellum, and we just wanted to wish you all a good, Happy Father’s Day. Thanks for being great dads. Hope you get pampered and you don’t have to barbecue. And we hope you get some good ties this year.” [Hillary laughs]
“Hey! It’s Lauren Alaina. Happy Father’s Day!”
“Hi! This is Little Big Town, wishing all you father’s a Happy Father’s Day.”
“Hey! This is Sam Hunt. To all you fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day!”
“Hi! This is Shania Twain. Happy Father’s Day.”
“Hey everybody! It’s Vince, and I just wanted to wish you a Happy Father’s Day. Wish mine was still around.”
Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church, Little Big Town, Josh Turner, Jon Pardi and Lauren Alaina are among the artists featured on the new NOW That’s What I Call Country, Vol. 10 compilation, due June 9th. The latest installment of the popular NOW series will include some of today’s biggest hits, including “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” “Fast,” “Black,” “Kill a Word,” “Better Man,” “Hometown Girl,” “Dirt On My Boots” and “Road Less Traveled,” as well as Jason Aldean’s “Any Ol’ Bar Stool,” Kenny Chesney’s “Bar At the End of the World” and Dustin Lynch’s “Seein’ Red,” among others.
To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the NOW Country brand, there will also be a Deluxe Version, featuring 14 more hits that will be released at the same time. Some of the bonus tracks include Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time,” Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now,” Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel,” Brad Paisley’s “She’s Everything” and Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus, Take the Wheel.”
NOW That’s What I Call Country, Vol. 10 Track List:
1. Keith Urban- “Blue Ain’t Your Color”
2. Jon Pardi – “Dirt On My Boots”
3. Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl”
4. Jason Aldean – “Any Ol’ Bar stool”
5. Luke Bryan – “Fast”
6. Dierks Bentley – “Black”
7. Kenny Chesney – “Bar At The End Of The World”
8. Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red”
9. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled”
10. Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time”
11. Eric Church – “Kill A Word”
12. Little Big Town – “Better Man”
13. Chris Young f/ Vince Gill -“Sober Saturday”
14. Brad Paisley – “Today”
15. Michael Ray – “Think A Little Less”
16. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes”
17. Kelsea Ballerini – “Yea Boy”
18. Miranda Lambert – “Vice”
NOW presents What’s Next
19. Canaan Smith – “Like You That Way”
Deluxe Bonus Tracks:
1. Luke Bryan – “Country Girl”
2. Jason Aldean – “Dirt Road”
3. Sam Hunt – “Take Your Time”
4. Carrie Underwood – “Jesus Take The Wheel”
5. Eric Church – “Like A Wrecking Ball”
6. Lady Antebellum – “Need You Now”
7. Miranda Lambert – “The House That Built Me”
8. Hunter Hayes – “Wanted”
9. Brad Paisley – “She’s Everything””
10. Kenny Chesney – “Somewhere With You”
11. Josh Turner – “Your Man”
12. Jake Owen – “Barefoot”
13. Darius Rucker – “Wagon Wheel”
14. Cam – “Burning House”
Luke Bryan (Fast) OC: …in a song. :58
“‘Fast’ is a song that I got the opportunity to get in the room with Rodney Clawson and Luke Laird and we started it. Luke and Rodney, I mean obviously, their pedigree is quite extensive and amazing. And I’m just so proud about how we used a simple word like ‘Fast’ and we tied the verses in and then that second verse how we brought in the parents were saying ‘we were falling in love too fast but we still made it work.’ And how life does move too fast. Every time I come home my boys are bigger and starting to throw me around the house a little more, and one day I’ll snap my fingers and you wish you could have froze time a little bit. And I think anytime you can help people slow down and reflect on that and remember to take things in stride a little bit better, I think people love hearing that in a song.”
Jon Pardi (Dirt on My Boots) OC: …that track. :31
“I saw my 22 year old self getting off a tractor and going to take a shower and putting his work boots back on and going and hanging out with a girl and having a good time dancing or something. And I really connected to the lyrics of it. It’s very country lyrics. It has tractors. It has cutting a rug. My favorite [line] — ‘I can get cleaned up, but I can only get so fancy,’ and I loved it. It was a great written country lyric, and I really think we made it more of a traditional feel with a modern flare to it, and I was really proud of that track.”
Eric Church (Like a Wrecking Ball) OC: …their life. :49
“I hate innuendo. I don’t like where people get cute. I’m 36 years old. I’m not 12. I don’t need people to disguise what we’re talking about. I think we can get so cute with stuff like that. Al Green didn’t get cute. Conway Twitty didn’t get cute. They said it. We’re adults, and this is an adult record. We’ve always made adult music. I like songs like that, and that’s what this song is. This song is about sex. It’s about not being home to see your wife or girl for a long time, and thinking about that, preparing for that and executing that [laughs] is what this song’s about. It has nothing to do with anything else. I mean…that’s what it is, and the honesty of that, I hope people find refreshing, because I’ve not found anybody that hasn’t felt that at some point in time during their life.”
Vince Gill, along with his daughters Jenny and Corrina, performed the National Anthem prior to Game 4 of Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night (May 2nd).
The Preds won the game 2-1, leading the series 3 games to 1.
Dierks Bentley even gave a shout out on Twitter to Vince prior to the game.
— Dierks Bentley (@DierksBentley) May 3, 2017
— The Tennessean (@Tennessean) May 3, 2017
— Ryder Cup USA (@RyderCupUSA) May 3, 2017
Game five takes place Friday night in St. Louis. If the Preds win, they advance to Round 3. If the Blues win, they return to Nashville on Sunday night.