Joe Nichols; Photo credit: Joseph Llanes
CHUCK DAUPHIN • AUGUST 2, 2017 - 7:49 AM
It’s hard to believe, but Joe Nichols is celebrating fifteen years as a hit recording artist in 2017. It was back in 2002 when the singer first hit with “The Impossible.”
What goes through his mind when he looks back at his successes so far? “I’ve never had a job this long. It feels, at times, like it has been a struggle over the years. But, at the same time, it feels like every year has been a great year. I can’t describe it,” he shares with Sounds Like Nashville. “When you hear fifteen years put like that, it sounds like I should be having some kind of a reunion with somebody. There have been a lot of friends in my band and management that I have worked with over the years, as well as at record labels and writers and producers. I think about those people – not just the albums we’ve recorded or the shows that we’ve played. I think about all the people that participated in my career.”
The singer, who just released his tenth studio album, Never Gets Old, doesn’t really think of words like legacy in his career, as he’s still trying to create – and make a living. “I do think that people that have had fifteen year careers have been a lot bigger superstars, and maybe a lot more consistent,” he admits. “I will say that my story is a lot different than most, or any artist in Country music. My business manager, Chuck Flood, told me that one day he was going to write a book – he’s had many clients over the years – and has been in the business for a long time. He told me ‘If I ever write a book, I swear I’m going to devote an entire chapter to you and how interesting your career has been.’ There’s an element of what I’ve already done meaning something to me, but I’m still in young kid mode where I want to go into the studio and make something great. It’s not like I’m going in thinking that I want a number one record or something like that, but I want to make something great. I want to make a Country album – with steel guitar and fiddle blaring loud. I want to feel like I did when I was ten years old, and wanted to be George Strait. That’s what I have tried to do with every album, and hope I get the chance to do many more.”
Looking back on where he has been so far, what would Nichols tell himself about his career when he kicked it off, a la Brad Paisley’s “A Letter To Me?”
“It would be a long letter, but I would tell myself to enjoy the moments – the big gifts that we have – whether it be awards, number ones, or duets. Things like meeting Merle Haggard for the first time or George Jones. Sitting in the dressing room with George Strait and Alan Jackson at Madison Square Garden watching the CMA Awards because they didn’t want to sit in the crowd. It was just us three in the room watching the show. It was one of the greatest moments in my life. I would tell myself to enjoy those moments and savor them while they are happening. The other thing is to slow down. I was too fast and impatient at everything. I wanted so much more than I already had. I was so much in a hurry. Maybe if I had been a little more patient, I think I might not have had all the dips and the valleys that I have had in my career over the years.”
If fans of traditional Country have their way, Never Gets Old will be nothing short of a hit. The album leans the most in that direction than any Nichols project in a while, especially on “I’d Sing About You,” of which he says he’s a big fan of how it turned out. “The thing I love about that one is that it’s really Country. The steel guitar is as loud as anything. It’s a simple message – which is I am who I am. These guys who were icons sang about these things, and my special meaning is you.’ Mentioning all the song titles – which are women’s names definitely gives it a little bit of a story.”
It’s tracks such as that one and “Girl In The Song” that were written and performed with the female demographic in mind – much the same way that Conway Twitty patterned his career – to record songs that every woman wants to hear their lover say. “I think that Conway was brilliant at finding songs that spoke to women how they wanted to be spoken to. Songs like ‘I’d Love To Lay You Down’ and ‘Hello Darlin’ spoke to a woman. He had an ability to find amazing song after amazing song. His song selection was incredible.”
Twitty would no doubt be proud of the saucy “Hostage,” of which Nichols admits “is a little bit ‘Fifty Shades of Gray ‘ – a little bit,” he says with a laugh. “I think it has some energy for being that kind of song. It’s got some passion in it. it’s one of the more aggressive songs on the album. We went in the studio, and thought ‘This sounds like it could be something. Let’s see what we can do to it.’ It’s a pretty cool bedroom song, maybe a little bit risque.”
Nichols confesses that he never has played the seductive card in the studio with a song choice, so he had to stretch a bit. “It’s a little blushy for me. I’ve always been a little conservative with that kind of material. There’s a point where you can be tasteful, and there’s a point where you can go overboard and be blunt and crude. I think this is a little more in that way, but not too much.”
Nichols also lets listeners see a spiritual side Never Gets Old, particularly with “We All Carry Something,” which he says was a no-brainer for the project. “Lyrically, ‘We All Carry Something’ is beautiful. It’s got a sad yet a redeeming quality, and a message of compassion for other people. It’s got a lot of my own personal story in the song with the little boy that grows up in a pretty tough environment. Then, in the last verse about Jesus dying on the cross – he carried that for us. To me, it was important for that to be on this record. I am that way, and I do think that way. I feel that way, and am that spiritual. I wouldn’t sell that out and leave it off the record.”
And, Never Gets Old closes with a song that Nichols has been performing at his live shows for years – “Baby Got Back,” the classic 1992 hit from Sir Mix A Lot. “This song is interesting, because even the young teenagers that weren’t around when the song was huge, I think even they remember the song jamming to old school rap. It amazes me how many younger people know that song. Certainly, anyone thirty or older remembers how big that it was.”
Nichols put a very traditional spin on the Rap classic, which gets great reaction from his fans – and the original artist himself! “Pretty much, everyone when we kick into the song, they get that instant gut laughter. They start singing along, and it’s fun. It’s a quirky and different arrangement, and it fits well with what I do. I’ve talked to Sir Mix A Lot, and he said ‘I love this cover. You didn’t copy anything of what I did. You made this your song. For that reason, I love it.”
Never Gets Old is available for purchase on iTunes now.
Album Review: Joe Nichols’ ‘Never Gets Old’
LAURA HOSTELLEY • JULY 26, 2017 - 6:00 AM
By mixing contemporary themes with traditional sounds, Joe Nichols stays true to his roots upon the release of his ninth studio album, Never Gets Old. The 12-track project is relatable and reflective as his smooth, baritone voice draws listeners in and the story-telling lyrics keep them entertained.
Best described as an easy-listening album, Nichols relies on catchy melodies and familiar topics for his latest project that long-time fans will find were worth the four-year wait. The Arkansas-native plays it safe on 11 out of the 12 tracks, throwing caution to the wind with track No. 12, a countrified version of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back,” that features comedian Darren Knight.
The title track, penned by Steve Moakler and Connie Harrington, offers nostalgia with a sweet sentiment – the love he experiences may be repetitive but that doesn’t mean it gets old. “Sometimes it feels like a broken record/But baby you never do,” Nichols croons, a line that much like the song, will never get old.
Nichols cuts deep in “We All Carry Something,” a track that tells of the various human experiences but concluding that what we experience shapes who we are, but no matter how bad it gets, you’re not going through it alone. “This Side of the River” is another story-song about life, appreciating it for what it is and being thankful for every minute of it.
“I’d Sing About You” stands out on the record with its simple lyrics and steel-filled melodies. The track is begging to be turned into a sing-along during his live show. The sultry “Breathless” could make even the hardest of hearts swoon and want more. It takes a different spin on the negative idea of leaving someone in a relationship, and turns it into a positive arrangement. “It’s so easy to slip out of touch/So that’s it girl I’ve had enough/I know you want me to/So tonight I’m leaving you/I’m leaving you breathless/Biting your lip/Leave you hanging on the heat of the next kiss.”
A couple of tunes on Never Gets Old may sound familiar to seasoned country music fans. Nichols reinvents the light-hearted song “Diamonds Makes Babies,” co-written by Chris Stapleton, Jim Beavers and Lee Thomas Miller and previously recorded by Dierks Bentley on his sixth studio album, Home. “Billy Graham’s Bible” is also recognizable, as Nichols released that track on his most recent 2013 album, Crickets.
Throughout Never Gets Old, Nichols proves why he has stayed a prominent name in country music for so long. His desire to stay relevant while staying true to his traditional country identity makes for a perfect contemporary blend of country sounds. Fans both new and old will distinguish the classic sound and country radio will be delivered a new supply of fresh tracks that their listeners are guaranteed to turn their volume dial up to.
Joe Nichols Puts a Southern Twang on Remake of ‘Baby Got Back’
KELLY BRICKEY • AUGUST 1, 2017 - 11:55 AM
Step over, Sir Mix-a-Lot, because there’s a new guy in town who likes to sing about big butts and he goes by the name of Joe Nichols.
In a cheeky cover video for the 80s throwback jam, Nichols auditions in front of Sir Mix-a-Lot to prove he can make “Baby Got Back” new again in his classic country style. Laying on his thickest Southern accent atop a dobro-heavy rendition, Nichols catches the rapper’s attention with his alternative approach to the beat-driven track.
While the original version of the song may have originally created the ‘twerking’ trend long ago, Nichols’ sound would get those bums shaking in a two-step line dance variation. Even Sir Mix-a-Lot got into the swing of things by mouthing along the iconic lyrics which he gave a voice to just a couple decades ago.
Trading his classic fedora-like hat for that of a wide-brimmed cowboy look, Sir Mix-a-Lot applauded the country singer for his efforts in the empty auditorium setting before sending them a shout-out for their unique stylings on his biggest career hit.
“Baby Got Back” may be Nichols’ most hilarious video from his latest release, but it’s actually his title track called “Never Gets Old” that he chose to send out to country radio. Nevertheless, fans will be laughing with Nichols at his attempt to take on the famous rap tune.
Nichols’ latest album, Never Gets Old, was released recently and “Baby Got Back” marked one of the 12 tracks on the record. Fans can purchase the project in stores or stream it on digital platforms now.