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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.”

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NEWS AND NOTES: Darius Rucker, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire

Darius Rucker is mixing sightseeing with work while he’s on his headlining European tour. He stopped by Stonehenge and posted some photos on his socials of him standing in front of the prehistoric stone monument on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England.

 

Vince Gill has announced a new four-night Ryman Auditorium residency. “An Evening With Vince Gill” takes place August 1st – 4th with tickets going on sale Friday (May 3rd) at 10am CT at ryman.com. Presale begins Wednesday (May 1st) at 10am CT.

 

Kelly Clarkson covered Reba McEntire‘s 1994 hit “Till You Love Me” during her Kellyoke segment of her daytime TV talk show.

 

 

 

 

NEWS AND NOTES: Brothers Osborne, Tyler Hubbard, Jordan Davis, Vince Gill, Mickey Guyton

Brothers Osborne‘s John Osborne is featured in Apple Music’s Nashville Guitar Greats series, available now.

Tyler Hubbard appeared on the Kelly Clarkson Show on Thursday (April 18th) and talked about his new album, Strong, his three children, getting caught parking in a church parking lot and more. He also performed the song, “Take Me Back” from the new project. Check out the interview HERE and the performance HERE.

 

Jordan Davis will be featured on CMT Hot 20 Countdown this weekend. Watch it Saturday and Sunday mornings beginning at 9am ET/8am CT.

 

Vince Gill will be featured in the new Chet Atkins‘ documentary, “Chet We Still Can’t Say Goodbye,” which will premiere on CMT on Friday (April 19th) at 10pm ET/9pm CT.

 

Mickey Guyton will take part in honoring the music of the late Patsy Cline on Monday (April 22nd) at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium. WALKIN’ AFTER MIDNIGHT: AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE TO PATSY CLINE will also feature appearances from Wynonna, Ashley McBryde, Crystal Gayle, Beverly D’Angelo, Hailey Whitters, Kristin Chenoweth, Mandy Barnett, Natalie Grant, Rita Wilson, Pam Tillis and Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo, among others.

 

NEWS AND NOTES: Eric Church, Kacey Musgraves, Vince Gill, Anne Wilson

Eric Church is among the headliners for the inaugural Country Calling Festival, taking place on the shores of Ocean City, Maryland October 4th and 5th. Jelly Roll, Tyler Childers, Lainey Wilson, Brothers Osborne, Priscilla Block, Hueston, Bailey Zimmerman, Riley Green, Dwight Yoakam and Tanya Tucker, among others will also perform. Tickets will go on sale on Friday (March 22nd) beginning at 10am ET. For more information, go to countrycallingfestival.com.

Kacey Musgraves appeared on SiriusXM’s Howard Stern Show earlier this week to talk about her new album, Deeper Well, smoking weed with Willie Nelson and much more. She also performed the title cut, “Rainbow” and Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” which is featured on the soundtrack for the recent biopic on the reggae legend’s life, “Bob Marley: One Love,” on the show.

 

George Strait is mourning the loss of two of his longtime “music family members,” who he lost hours apart on Wednesday (March 21st). First, his manager of 45 years and friend for longer, Erv Woolsey, passed away from complications following surgery; then his Ace In The Hole bandmember Gene Elder passed, as well.

Vince Gill and Amy Grant will return to Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium for their annual holiday residency in November and December. Tickets for all shows go on sale on Friday (March 22nd). For more information, go to Ryman.com.

Anne Wilson will perform during the “Opry NextStage Live From Texas” show at Lava Cantina on May 15 at 2:30 p.m. CT in The Colony, Texas. The special Opry event will precede the 59th Academy of Country Music Awards on May 16th. Showcasing “Country’s Rising Sound,” the lineup features members of the newly announced Opry NextStage Class of 2024, including Anne, as well as Chase Matthew, Ella Langley, Flatland Cavalry, Madeline Edwards and Wyatt Flores, along with other special guests and host, Jelly Roll.

 

 

 

 

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