Everything We Know About Charles Kelley’s ‘The Driver’
“Lady Antebellum will never break up, mark my words,” Kelley says. “But I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone.”
Although some fans may have initially been shocked by the announcement, Kelley says that his solo endeavor will only help the trio in the end.
“We can take some time off and not feel like we’re going to lose it all,” he notes. “… It’s all about the music, so we need to step away and make the best music we can. That’s the only way it’s going to sustain itself.”
“We talked about having a little time off, and it was like, ‘You know what? If we’re going to have a little break here, let’s all be able to do what we want to do during that break and support each other in whatever that may be,'" Haywood tells The Boot. "So I’m excited for him.”
Below, The Boot breaks down everything we know so far about Kelley's solo album.
Kelley's debut solo record will be called The Driver. The disc takes its name from its debut single, its second track.
The Release Date
The Driver is set for release on Feb. 5. It is available for pre-order via iTunes.
The Album Cover
On The Driver's cover, Kelley strikes a serious pose, his Flower of Life tattoo visible on his left arm.
“I had a Beatles song, a little mantra that, every time I got stressed out, I would sing to myself: ‘Nothing’s gonna change my world, nothing’s gonna change my world,'” Kelley explains of his ink. “That is a song called "Across the Universe" … and this Flower of Life represents, kind of, the universe and how we’re all connected."
The Record Label
The Driver is being released on Capitol Nashville, which also the label home of Lady Antebellum.
Paul Worley, who co-produced Lady A's first four studio albums, produced The Driver.
"It was essentially in this back room in Paul Worley’s office that he used as kind of just a rehearsal space," Kelley told The Boot and other reporters at a recent media event. "It pretty much almost looks like Muscle Shoals or Sun Sound: It’s got asbestos tiles on the walls and stuff; everybody’s in one room together.
"... There’s so much about the instrumentation of it that I feel like came from that band and all the players looking at each other, being in a room, kind of the way they used to cut records, as opposed to being isolated," he continues. "I think it’s one of the reasons music sounds so good."
Released in October, "The Driver" is The Driver's debut single, and Kelley's first-ever solo single. However, he has some help on the song: Dierks Bentley and Eric Paslay, the latter of whom helped write the tune, both supply guest vocals.
“The perspective seemed like a Crosby, Stills and Nash story song,” Kelley explains. “We went in the studio to record it with no agenda. I thought, maybe it’ll be the start of the next Lady Antebellum record, maybe we’ll scrap it, maybe I’ll pitch the song to other singers.”
“I’m still in shock …,” Kelley says. “I feel like I’m just getting started on this journey, so to get honored in this way and share it with Dierks and Eric is incredible.”
The Songs, Writers and Special Guests
Kelley covers every tempo on the album, from the rocking "Your Love" to the melancholy "Dancing Around It" to the passionate "Leaving Nashville." He co-wrote four of the record's nine tracks; other songwriters featured include Chris Stapleton, Nathan Chapman and Kelley's brother, Josh Kelley.
"It’s really funny, when we first started the record, one of the things Paul and I talked about was trying not to maybe have a female harmony singer," Kelley says. "[But Nicks] is the biggest Tom Petty fan. Paul kind of goes through the channels, and somehow it comes back that she wants to sing on it, so I was like, ‘Of course. It’s Stevie Nicks. Yes. She’s going to sing on it.’ So I already broke my rule of no females on the record."
"I Wish You Were Here" is a song that Kelley initially heard on a Jedd Hughes record, with Hillary Lindsey singing background. After cutting the song by himself, Kelley realized that it was missing a female voice, so he reached out to Lambert.
"I kind of pulled in a favor because I sang on her [Revolution] record, a song we’d written called "Love Song," and I was singing harmonies," he recalls. "So I said, ‘Not to put any pressure, but I’m calling in my favor from you right now. Would you like to sing on this song?'"
The Driver Track Listing:
1. "Your Love" (Abe Stoklasa, Ashley Ray)
2. "The Driver" feat. Dierks Bentley and Eric Paslay (Charles Kelley, Eric Paslay, Abe Stoklasa)
3. "Dancing Around It" (Charles Kelley, Abe Stoklasa, Daniel Tashian)
4. "Southern Accents" feat. Stevie Nicks (Tom Petty)
5. "Lonely Girl" (Chris Stapleton, Jesse Frasure)
6. "The Only One Who Gets Me" (Charles Kelley, Nathan Chapman)
7. "Round in Circles" (Charles Kelley, Josh Kelley)
8. "I Wish You Were Here" feat. Miranda Lambert (Jedd Hughes)
9. "Leaving Nashville" (Abe Stoklasa, Donovan Woods)
“Lady Antebellum kind of skipped this whole spot in our career because it happened so fast,” Kelley tells The Boot. “We never got to do the full club tour, which is always a dream of mine ... There’s something about playing in a dirty club: people grabbing on your legs, you can smell the beer in the air, you can see everybody’s faces. That was my goal."
A list of all of Kelley's upcoming dates is available on his website.
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