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.”
The nominees for the 2017 Billboard Music Awards were announced and several of your favorite country artists are up for awards. Luke Bryan is nominated in the all-format fan-voted Billboard Chart Achievement category, as well as for Top Country Tour.
Keith Urban has several BBMA nods, including Top Country Album for Ripcord and Top Country Song for “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” as well as a nomination for Top Country Artist.
Chris Stapleton is up against Keith as Top Country Artist, as well as Top Country Album for Traveller.
Little Big Town’s “Better Man” is up for Top Country Song, while Dierks Bentley’s “Different for Girls” featuring Elle King, Eric Church’s “Kill a Word” with Rhiannon Giddens and Vince Gill’s appearance on Chris Young’s “Sober Saturday Night” are up for Top Country Collaborations.
Hillary Scott & the Scott Family have three BBMA nominations, including Top Christian Artist, Top Christian Album for Love Remains and Top Christian Song for “Thy Will.”
The Billboard Music Awards will air on May 21 at 8PM on ABC.
Billboard Chart Achievement Award Presented by Xfinity:
Twenty One Pilots
Top Country Artist:
Florida Georgia Line
Top Country Tour:
Top Country Album:
Jason Aldean, They Don’t Know
Florida Georgia Line, Dig Your Roots
Blake Shelton, If I’m Honest
Chris Stapleton, Traveller
Keith Urban, Ripcord
Top Country Song:
Kenny Chesney Featuring Pink, “Setting The World On Fire”
Florida Georgia Line, “H.O.L.Y.”
Florida Georgia Line Featuring Tim McGraw, “May We All”
Little Big Town, “Better Man”
Keith Urban, “Blue Ain’t Your Color”
Top Country Collaboration:
Dierks Bentley Featuring Elle King, “Different For Girls”
Kenny Chesney Featuring Pink, “Setting The World On Fire”
Eric Church Featuring Rhiannon Giddens, “Kill A Word”
Florida Georgia Line Featuring Tim McGraw, “May We All”
Chris Young Featuring Vince Gill, “Sober Saturday Night”
Top Christian Artist:
Hillary Scott & the Scott Family
Top Christian Album:
Casting Crowns, The Very Next Thing
Lauren Daigle, How Can It Be
Joey + Rory, Hymns
Hillary Scott & The Scott Family, Love Remains
Top Christian Song:
Lauren Daigle, “Trust In You”
Hillary Scott & The Family, “Thy Will”
Skillet, “Feel Invincible”
Ryan Stevenson Featuring GabeReal, “Eye Of The Storm”
Zach Williams, “Chain Breaker”
Vince Gill picked up his 21st Grammy Award on Sunday night. He won Best American Roots Song for “Kid Sister” with The Time Jumpers.
The GRAMMY Awards will be handed out on Sunday (February 12th), and several of your favorite country artists may be walking away with a trophy.
Keith Urban has nominations in three categories, including Best Country Solo Performance for his recent multi-week No. 1 song, “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” which is also up for Best Country Song. His record, Ripcord, competes for Best Country Album.
Dierks Bentley with Elle King are nnominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “Different for Girls,” while Brothers Osborne are also up for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “21 Summer.”
Vince Gill scored a couple of nominations, including Best Americana Roots Song for penning “Kid Sister,” which is also the title of his Best Americana Album with his band The Time Jumpers.
Hillary Scott & the Scott Family are nominated for Contemporary Christian Song for “Thy Will” and Best Contemporary Christian Album for Love Remains.
Keith Urban will perform his latest single, “The Fighter,” with Carrie Underwood. Little Big Town will also perform on the show, in addition to previously announced performers Maren Morris, Adele, The Weeknd, Alicia Keys, as well as Sturgill Simpson, Gary Clark, Jr. and Chance The Rapper.
The 50th Annual Grammy Awards, hosted by James Corden, will air live from the Staples Center in L.A., February 12th at 8pm ET on CBS.
Best Country Solo Performance:
“Love Can Go To Hell” — Brandy Clark
“Vice” — Miranda Lambert
“My Church” — Maren Morris
“Church Bells” — Carrie Underwood
“Blue Ain’t Your Color” — Keith Urban
Best Country Duo/Group Performance:
“Different For Girls” — Dierks Bentley Featuring Elle King
“21 Summer” — Brothers Osborne
“Setting The World On Fire” — Kenny Chesney & P!nk
“Jolene” — Pentatonix Featuring Dolly Parton
“Think Of You” — Chris Young With Cassadee Pope
Best Country Song:
“Blue Ain’t Your Color” — Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey & Steven Lee Olsen, songwriters (Keith Urban)
“Die A Happy Man” — Sean Douglas, Thomas Rhett & Joe Spargur, songwriters (Thomas Rhett)
“Humble And Kind” — Lori McKenna, songwriter (Tim McGraw)
“My Church” — busbee & Maren Morris, songwriters (Maren Morris)
“Vice” — Miranda Lambert, Shane McAnally & Josh Osborne, songwriters (Miranda Lambert)
Best Country Album:
Big Day In A Small Town — Brandy Clark
Full Circle — Loretta Lynn
Hero — Maren Morris
A Sailor’s Guide To Earth — Sturgill Simpson
Ripcord — Keith Urban
Keith Urban (Blue Ain’t Your Color) OC: …of space. :50
“With this record, I think I was also trying to find songs and write songs to what I had done in the past, just that felt different for me. This song called ‘Blue Ain’t Your Color’ came along, and again, it was just one of those that I loved immediately. I loved the lyric. I loved the melody, the feel, and it’s basically a waltz, you know, like a one, two, three, two, two, three, a one, two, three, two, two, three. But I didn’t want it to feel like a waltz, you know? So, when we recorded the song at Starstruck Studios here in Nashville, we kept it a little more robotic sounding, so it wasn’t a straight band. It was a little more machinery, rhythmically, and I think it kept, hopefully for me at least, it kept it in a unique place to allow the story to have a lot of space.”
Keith Urban (Ripcord album) OC: …this record. :37
“There’s songs on the record that probably feel, having not skydived myself, but my wife has done it many, many, many times. There’s definitely songs that sound like that free falling at an incredibly rapid speed. The adrenaline rush of that. The pulling of the cord and suddenly just sort of cruising and coasting and floating and the combination of all those speeds, energies, exhilarations, euphoria, the view, how that changes, all of it, I think, hopefully will be captured in the diversity of songs on this record.”
Dierks Bentley (Elle King) OC: …new place. :36
“Well, I love Elle King’s voice. I mean she has such a unique voice, and you never know if her voice is going to blend with your voice. I didn’t found out until I went down to the studio in Austin, and right away it was just a really natural sounding blend. Her voice just lifted up this song. The lyrics of this song are pretty strong and her voice on this particular song really takes the song to a whole other level. I really wanted to find a way for her not to just be background vocals. I wanted to find a way to really get her included in the song, so I gave her the second verse and made the song more of a conversation as opposed to just background vocals. And it really, it just took the song to a whole new place.”
Hillary Scott (Grammys 2017) OC: …incredible year. 52
HILLARY: “Over the moon excited, and never expected it, because honestly when we set out to make the record we weren’t sure how many people would get to hear it. To be able to share this with my family is, it makes me cry. So, it’s gonna be a really special day. The whole experience has been amazing.” CHARLES: “I expected it. The first time I heard ‘Thy Will,’ it blew my mind. I asked her if she could hold it for Lady Antebellum’s record. I knew it was special. I told her after I heard it, ‘This is gonna to blow up. It’s gonna be huge.’” HILLARY: “And just to see, that song in particular coming from such a difficult thing, I think we all hope that the things that we go through in our life, at some point being able to look back and say, ‘Okay. Alright. I still would never want to go through it again, but I see why, a piece of why even.’ So, this is just, it’s just been an incredible year.”