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Ronnie Dunn: New Album Channels Haggard and Metallica

Christopher Polk, Getty Images

Ronnie Dunn is currently working on his second solo album, but he’ll be taking a break to attend the Grammy ceremony for the first time in several years, having received two nominations this year for Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song for “Cost of Living,” his heart-wrenching ode to tough times. Having racked up 15 nominations during his time in Brooks & Dunn, you’d think a couple of nominations might not be such a big deal to this music legend. Well, think again.

“Oh, it’s way cool! It’s more exciting than ever,” Ronnie tells The Boot. “Just at a time when I was sitting at home by myself and thinking, ‘The industry has kind of moved on,’ they sent up a flare; gave me a signal to keep moving. Sometimes the lulls in your career and the little things you have to go through to try to keep it going — you never want to have to step off the top — but those little lulls and the way you handle them are more important than the highs. You can get caught up in auto-pilot up there on that cloud.”

Ronnie admits that creating music as a solo artist and having to work hard for it again after so many years as part of a superstar duo has stirred his creative juices. “It definitely affects my writing. I really dove in on this last record and I’m saying things I never said before! It might be censored!” [laughs].

The singer-songwriter adds that he’s pleased with the turn this latest album has taken, and that fans can expect a variety of styles and sounds from his second outing as a solo artist, which was created in the spacious barn/studio at his home just outside of Nashville.

“It’s all over the map,” he notes. “I like going and reaching just as far on the progressive end as I can and then coming right back with the next song and hitting you right square between the eyes with a good old fiddle and a straight traditional country song. I’ve got one on there called ‘Hey Haggard!’ and another one called ‘Country This,’ which is almost Metallica, a tongue-in-cheek thing. There’s an edge to this one that the other album didn’t have — and I loved the other one. When you’re in the moment that’s always the best record you’ve ever made. But the mule’s definitely kicking in the barn!”

With the Grammy Awards right around the corner, Ronnie’s not only excited to be nominated, he’s also looking forward to variety of artists who’ll also be in attendance.

“I’ve been to the Grammys a few times before but it’s been a while since I’ve made the trek. It’s fun to sit in the audience and just look around. You’re surrounded by everybody, people like [Bruce] Springsteen or Gene Simmons, you never know. It’s a lot of fun!”

Although Ronnie’s current record-label status remains unclear, he was on hand earlier this month at the announcement of a new venture, HitShop Records, leading to speculation that he may join their roster.

The Grammy Awards will air Sunday, Feb. 10 at 8:00 PM on CBS.

Watch Ronnie Dunn’s ‘Cost of Living’ Video

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