The guys in Lonestar are looking forward to a very different future, without forgetting their past. The multi-platinum selling country stars are back on the radio after an almost year hiatus with a new single, 'Let Me Love You.' It's a song you might not have instantly recognized as being by Lonestar, for the obvious reason that the voice belting out the lyrics is not the unmistakable Richie McDonald. In what the bandmates call a "shocking" move, McDonald left the group last year to pursue a solo career. Despite their disappointment, remaining members Dean Sams, Keech Rainwater and Michael Britt concentrated on the situation's silver lining.

"It hit us like someone smacking us in the face," Sams told The Boot of McDonad's departure. "It came out of nowhere, and at the beginning, it was tough. It was definitely in the best interest of the band and himself that he moved on. So after we got past the initial shock of it, we all sort of took a breath and said, 'This is good.' . . . Where his [McDonald's] direction was going was not where the band wanted to be. We'd been driving in different directions for about five years. So, it was a tough way for it to happen, but it was for the best."

In the search for a new frontman, one of the first names that came to Sams' mind was Cody Collins, an Atlanta-based singer he had seen performing in a local bar. Though they auditioned several other singers, no one came close to Collins.

"He became the guy to beat very quickly," Sams says of Collins. "When we first started looking, I showed the guys his MySpace page. And every CD we got, we compared to him. Every picture we got, we compared their looks to him. And nobody topped him!"

"We weren't looking for someone to sound like Richie or to replace Richie," adds Britt. "What we like about Cody's voice is that he has a wide range . . . He does the ballads just as well as he does the rock stuff, and he just has this sound that if we were to say, 'Here's what we want our future to sound like,' then that was it. We felt like his voice can do our old songs with a different spin, but also take us someplace new. We didn't want a carbon copy."

Specifically, the guys wanted to develop more of an edge. Lonestar had become known for sugary-sweet songs about marriage and kids, and though appreciative of the success those songs brought them, they were afraid they were being pigeonholed.

"A lot of the songs that Richie was bringing to the table were autobiographical, about his family," says Britt. "And when 'Front Porch' came out, we'd just done 'I'm Already There.' So we felt like we're kinda beating a dead horse there. And then we still came out with 'Class Reunion' and 'Mr. Mom,' so we really felt like we were being taken to a place that wasn't really our goal to begin with."

Britt explains that both he and Rainwater started out playing rock music and were anxious to revisit their roots. That was one of the main factors in picking a new lead singer and in picking songs for their upcoming album, appropriately titled 'The Future.'

"I hate to use the word edgier," Britt says of the new project, "but it's got a lot more hair on it than anything we've done in the last five years."

"'The Future' is a story of where we are in the world," Sams says of the album's title track. "The gist of the song is talking about the future of a relationship, and this musical journey we're about to embark on is a relationship, too. It's saying, 'I'm tired of talking about the past.'"

But don't get Sams wrong. He is very grateful of the band's past success and certainly doesn't want to dismiss it.

"You can't have ten No. 1 songs and sell over ten million records and go, 'Eh, that was then,'" he says. "But at the same time, the past is the past. And now it's time to think about what we can do now."

'The Future' is slated for release sometime this fall. Listen to the album's first single, 'Let Me Love You,' below.

Listen to 'Let Me Love You'

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