Michael Ray's love of 1980s and '90s country music is second only to his love for wife Carly Pearce. Everything he's working on musically right now can safely be called a passion project.

This spring, the singer started a Honkytonk Tuesday series on social media. Find him wailing gems by Clint Black, Tracy Lawrence and Alan Jackson, plus songs from less-revered artists such as Jeff Carson and Phil Vassar. Gary Allan is an artist from late in the decade for whom he has so much admiration.

“Just such honesty and truth," he says of the late-'90s and early to mid-'00s hitmaker. "And the voice, the whole thing with Gary is something I wish that people would recognize more than they do.”

Ray admittedly had to re-learn songs he once knew by heart but had fallen out of practice of performing since signing a record deal and touring with his own songs, including "One That Got Away" and "Think a Little Less." While you're binging Netflix, he's binging deep cuts from Shenandoah and Mark Chesnutt.

“I was the guy that had bonfires and I was playing all the country covers," he tells Taste of Country. "Definitely have to catch up on some of them, but it’s been fun.”

The Tuesday series is where fans may find new songs he's working on as well. Since being quarantined at home, Ray says he's cut vocals on four songs from a home studio. The musicians all record from their home studios, and his producer Zooms with him as he cuts vocals. The atmosphere lacks the same energy of being in the room, but fans are unlikely to notice when his next album (his third) is released.

“What I do naturally is what’s coming on this next record,” says Ray, who married Pearce last October. “I think this record is going to make people understand me better. There are a lot of autobiographical songs of what it’s like growing up in the country in Florida."

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That means more original songwriting, something he hasn't done much of for his own albums since signing with Atlantic, a division of Warner Music Group. That's not as much a result of living with a talented songwriter as it is just learning who he is and having the confidence to take the music in a direction he wants to go it.

“I was writing to fit in instead of writing what I felt and what I thought was me. And I think people are going to see that on this next record," he shares.

Black, Deana Carter and Trisha Yearwood are three artists Ray hopes to nab to make appearances on Honkytonk Tuesdays, and from the sound of it, all three would sound at home on the original music he's making as well. A more traditional Ray isn't the result of time spent alone during the pandemic. To know the "Her World or Mine" singer is to know his heart lies with hits from his childhood.

“It’s where I’ve always wanted to go," he says.

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