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 nominations for 2019’s GRAMMY Awards have been announced, and Kacey Musgraves leads the list of UMG Nashville’s artists with four, including overall Album of the Year for Golden Hour, as well as Best Country Album. Her song “Butterflies” picks up a nomination for Best Country Solo Performance, while “Space Cowboy” earns a nod for Best Country Song.
Chris Stapleton is nominated for three awards, including Best Country Solo Performance (“Millionaire”); Best Country Album (From A Room: Volume 2) and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance with Justin Timberlake for “Say Something.”
Brothers Osborne has a pair of noms for Best Country Duo/Group Performance (“Shoot Me Straight”) and Best Country Album (Port St. Joe).
Little Big Town competes for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for their song “When Someone Stops Loving You” – the song is also nominated for Best Country Song (award goes to the songwriters).
Keith Urban grabs a nod for Best Country Solo Performance for “Parallel Line,” which is from his latest album, Graffiti U.
Vince Gill gains a Grammy nomination in the Best Country Duo/Group Performance category for the duet “Dear Hate” with Maren Morris.
And Restoration: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin captures a nomination for Best Country Solo Performance for Maren Morris’ version of “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters.”
The 2019 Grammys will air live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles February 10th on CBS.
Album of the Year
Invasion of Privacy — Cardi B
By the Way I Forgive You — Brandi Carlile
Scorpion — Drake
beerbongs & bentleys — Post Malone
H.E.R. — H.E.R.
Dirty Computer — Janelle Monae
Golden Hour — Kacey Musgraves
Black Panther: The Album — Kendrick Lamar
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
“Fall In Line” — Christina Aguilera Featuring Demi Lovato
“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” — Backstreet Boys
“‘S Wonderful” — Tony Bennett & Diana Krall
“Shallow” — Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
“Girls I Like You” — Maroon 5 Featuring Cardi B
“Say Something” — Justin Timberlake Featuring Chris Stapleton
“The Middle” — Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey
Best Country Solo Performance
“Wouldn’t It Be Great?” — Loretta Lynn
“Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” — Maren Morris
“Butterflies” — Kacey Musgraves
“Millionaire” — Chris Stapleton
“Parallel Line” — Keith Urban
Best Country Duo/Group Performance
“Shoot Me Straight” — Brothers Osborne
“Tequila” — Dan + Shay
”When Someone Stops Loving You” — Little Big Town
“Dear Hate” — Maren Morris Featuring Vince Gill
“Meant to Be” — Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line
Best Country Song
“Break Up in the End” — Jessie Jo Dillon, Chase McGill & Jon Nite, songwriters (Cole Swindell)
“Dear Hate” — Tom Douglas, David Hodges & Maren Morris, songwriters (Maren Morris Featuring Vince Gill)
“Space Cowboy” — Luke Laird, Shane McAnally & Kacey Musgraves, songwriters (Kacey Musgraves)
“Tequila” — Nicolle Galyon, Jordan Reynolds & Dan Smyers, songwriters (Dan + Shay)
“When Someone Stops Loving You” — Hillary Lindsey, Chase McGill & Lori McKenna, songwriters (Little Big Town)
Best Country Album
Unapologetically — Kelsea Ballerini
Port Saint Joe — Brothers Osborne
Girl Going Nowhere — Ashley McBryde
Golden Hour — Kacey Musgraves
From A Room: Volume 2 — Chris Stapleton
Little Big Town paid tribute to the legendary Cher at the Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday night (December 2nd). This year’s honorees include Reba McEntire, Cher, composer and pianist Philip Glass, jazz saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter and Lin-Manuel Miranda and the creators of Hamilton. The Kennedy Center honors will air December 26th at 8pm ET on CBS.
Shania Twain is scheduled to appear on Live With Kelly & Ryan on Friday (December 7th).
Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton, Kacey Musgraves, Shania Twain and Vince Gill are among the artists vying for tour awards at the Pollstar Awards, which will be handed out February 13th in Los Angeles. Keith, Luke, Chris and Shania are up for Best Country Tour, alongside Kenny Chesney and Thomas Rhett. Kacey is nominated in the all-genre Best Support/Special Guest category for opening Harry Styles’ tour, while Vince up for Best Touring Musician for his stint with the Eagles.
Dierks Bentley and Jon Pardi are among the artists who will pay tribute to the late Troy Gentry (Montgomery Gentry)at a benefit concert, C-Ya on the Flip Side. Lee Brice, Tracy Lawrence, Justin Moore, Rascal Flatts and Dustin Lynch, among others will also perform at the event taking place January 9th at the Grand Ole Opry. Proceeds will go to a handful of organizations including the Troy Gentry Foundation, the Opry Trust, T.J. Martell Foundation, Make-A-Wish and many others.
Dierks Bentley is nominated for CMA Musical Event of the Year with his recent tour mates, Brothers Osborne, for the song “Burning Man,” which is nearing the Top 10 on the country charts.
Dierks recently wrapped up his Mountain High Tour, but immediately thought of his former tour mates when he started recording the song. “In the studio, Jedd Hughes put down this great guitar part, and I thought, ‘Man, John would be really cool on that,’ and then, obviously TJ has a, I love his singing. Great voice,” says Dierks. “I would’ve asked them to be on it regardless, I really would have, but the fact they’re on tour with us just makes it all that sweeter.”
Dierks is also up for Male Vocalist and Album of the Year (The Mountain). You can catch him on the morning of the CMA Awards performing two songs on ABC’s Good Morning America.
Vince Gill is also nominated for Musical Event of the Year for his collaboration with Maren Morris on “Dear Hate.” Vince is one of the most awarded artists in CMA history with 18 including two Entertainer of the Year awards and five Male Vocalist Awards.
The 52nd Annual CMA Awards, hosted by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley, will broadcast live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday (November 14th) at 8pm ET/PT on ABC.
MUSICAL EVENT OF THE YEAR
(Award goes to each Artist)
“Burning Man” – Dierks Bentley Feat. Brothers Osborne
“Dear Hate” – Maren Morris (Feat. Vince Gill)
“Drowns the Whiskey” – Jason Aldean (Feat. Miranda Lambert)
“Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” – David Lee Murphy (with Kenny Chesney)
“Meant to Be” – Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line
Dierks Bentley (Burning Man) OC: …really well. :24
“I’d had this song for about two years. It’s been a song I’ve been holding on for a little while. I just love that song. I could really relate to the lyrics. In the studio, Jedd Hughes put down this great guitar part, and I thought, ‘Man, John would be really cool on that,’ and then, obviously TJ has a, I love his singing. Great voice. I would’ve asked them to be on it regardless, I really would have, but the fact they’re on tour with us just makes it all that sweeter. Those guys are the perfect group to do it with and they definitely took it to a new spot and now we get to sing it every night on stage, so it worked out really well.”