Clint Black has a new record label home for his first studio album in almost a decade. The country legend is putting the finishing touches on an LP to be released this fall via Thirty Tigers, which has led marketing efforts for recent releases by the likes of Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson and Lucinda Williams — all albums that received impressive sales and critical acclaim, but very little terrestrial radio airplay. Black is creating his new music with the same indie mindset.
“Not at all,” the Texas native answers Rolling Stone Country with a laugh when asked if he aimed to create songs for the project that would perk country radio programmers’ ears. “I like some of the songs I’m hearing [on radio], but we’re going backwards with sounds. I don’t mind hearing reverb and distortion, but I want to hear the different instruments. The musicians who are playing on this record are Mozarts.”
Black himself is a multi-instrumentalist on the as-yet-untitled album, playing electric and acoustic guitars, slide guitar and harmonica. He also wrote or co-wrote every track, helped produce and engineer the LP and even provided his own background vocals here and there. The album was recorded in his home studio in Nashville and includes collaborations with wife of 24 years, Lisa Hartman Black, longtime friend and fellow country star, Steve Wariner, and frequent co-writer and bandleader, Hayden Nicholas.
Black first put his name on the country music map with 1989’s platinum-selling Killin’ Time, with the debut album’s first single, “A Better Man” reaching Number One. The LP spawned four more chart-toppers and landed him the CMA’s coveted Horizon Award, along with several other honors. He continued to be a consistent hitmaker through the Nineties, with a long list of now-classic songs including “Nothing But the Taillights,” “State of Mind,” “No Time to Kill” and “When I Said I Do.” He has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide and charted more than 30 Top 10 hits.
With his next album, Black may not be conforming to current country trends, but that could very well be the strategy that gets it noticed.
“The hardest part about this album will be that it’s not trying to sound like everything on the radio,” Black says. “But that’s what Killin’ Time was.”