New Album ‘Same Truck’ Riding High, As Singer Returns To Hanahan Amphitheatre
Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer
Riding on the success of his 2018 album ‘Seasons Change’ which yielded three straight number one songs, ‘Five More Minutes’,’ This is It’, and ‘In Between’, country music crooner Scotty McCreery may be taking his career to the next level, on his latest release ‘Same Truck’. McCreery co-wrote 10 of the 12 tracks on his fifth studio album, with many dedicated to his wife Gabi, including the debut single ‘You Time’ which recently topped the charts.
Like many singer songwriters, McCreery discovered he had a lot of extra time to work on new material when COVID hit home in 2020. “We spent more time than we expected on it. We started working on the album in 2018 and well into 2019, and then when the pandemic hit, everything kind of came to a halt. But it turned out to be a blessing. What we ended up with are much better songs. So I’m really proud of the new album.”
‘The debut single ‘You Time’ went straight to number one, giving McCreery four straight chart toppers. “It’s a love song inspired by my wife Gabi. It’s a feel good song. Very proud of it. I’m happy it went to number one, but it’s a grind to get songs to the top of the charts. There’s more behind it than meets the eye. Just glad radio and fans have embraced it.”
Although they married in 2018, McCreery and his wife had been dating since high school, and he admits she is the inspiration for many of his songs. “For me, what I live and what I know is what I write about. I get a lot of ideas from my wife. She’s awesome. I’m truly inspired by her.” He adds, “People ask me why I don’t write about pain or heartache, it’s because I haven’t really experienced any of that in my life. I’m in a good place right now, and my songs reflect that.”
One of the more clever songs on his latest release is ‘Damn Strait’ (written by Trent Tomlinson and Jim Collins), a clever ditty that pays homage to the king of country music George Strait. “I was down on the beach and that song came to me from my label. I fell in love with it write away, but I did what I often do, I bounced it off friends and my wife. They all had the same reaction. They said you have to do this song.”
McCreery would no doubt welcome mirroring Strait’s career. “He’s had 60 number one hits. He’s an icon in our industry. If you’re a tried and true fan of country music you’ve got to be a fan of George Strait. I don’t know anyone who does what I do who wouldn’t love having just a fraction of the success George has had. He definitely set the bar high. The best thing about George is that he did it his way, and that sets him apart.”
The title track on McCreery’s latest album, and one burning up country radio puts his own spin on ‘we’re all in the same boat’. “We’re all doing the same things just on different roads. It sounded like a good title to a country song, so we went with it.” In the accompanying video, McCreery is seen driving the very truck he won on Idol. “Ford came to me and said what kind of car do you want, and I said ‘can I have a truck’, and they said no problem. 10 years later I’m still driving it.” McCreery may just have the Midas Touch, as it appears ‘Same Truck’ may be heading to number one any day now.
Although he’s just 28 McCreery has experienced quite a bit. “I realize I’m still young but I’ve put out five albums, had success on the radio, toured the country, got married, and I’m a homeowner. I’m very thankful for all I’ve achieved since winning American Idol.” You can add gold and platinum records to his list of achievements, as well as opening for Garth Brooks and Rascal Flatts, and singing for a president of the United States. Not a bad resume in such a short period of time.
He feels very blessed since that fateful day in May 2011, when his name was called. “When you consider all the people who try out every season for American Idol, and the chosen few that move on to Hollywood you can’t help but feel blessed. American Idol allowed me to take what I love to do, which is sing, and helped jumpstart my career. I will forever be thankful to them and the fans who voted for me.”
Since his run on American Idol McCreery’s been racking up career milestones. “I went on tour with the show after season 10 ended, and toured with Brad Paisley in 2012. I did tours with Kenny Chesney, and have performed with some of the icons in country music today, and the Opry stage. I don’t take any of what I’ve achieved for granted.”
It’s been more than a decade since McCreery edged out fellow Nashville singer Lauren Alaina to win the 10th season of American Idol. The Garner, North Carolina native made quite a splash after winning Idol in 2011. His freshman release ‘Clear As Day’ debuted at number one on Billboards Top 200, and subsequently topped the charts on four separate music charts.
His first two singles, ‘I Love You This Big’ and ‘The Trouble With Girls’ both cracked the Top 20 eventually earning ‘Clear As Day’ platinum status (more than 1 million units sold). Impressive for a young man who was just 17 years old at the time. Even McCreery finds it all too surreal. “The ride has been awesome. I’ve certainly been blessed. God had a plan for my life, and thankfully for me it included singing as a career.”
His parents and grandparents encouraged his love for music. By age ten he was playing guitar. “I was fond of country music, especially the legends like George Jones & Merle Haggard, but everyone knows by now I was drawn to Elvis Presley. That seems odd for a kid who grew up in the 90’s and 2000’s, but there is something about Elvis that hit a chord with me. He’s my number one.”
A devout Christian, McCreery travelled to Milwaukee in 2010 to audition for Idol, forgoing a closer trip to Nashville because it interfered with a planned church camp. Prior to the audition he had success in his hometown and was a youth praise leader. “I went to Milwaukee not thinking much about it. I had watched the show my whole life and when I was old enough to try out I went for it. I had no expectations. I thought I’d have fond memories and stories I could share with my friends.”
Nevertheless the good Lord’s will prevailed and he was invited to Hollywood. “When I made it to Hollywood I told myself I’ll try hard and if I don’t make it I’ll have even more stories I can tell people later in life. The cool story is they kept me around. I made the top 24. That’s when you start second guessing because there is really a lot of talent at that level. And then I reached the top 12 and top 10 and it starts to hit you. You’re hoping to win, but rooting for fellow contestants because you’ve developed friendships.”
In May 2011 it was down to 16 year old Lauren Alaina and 17 year old Scotty McCreery. Their combined ages make the youngest match up in American Idol history. When his name was announced McCreery became the youngest male to ever win the competition. “It was a very nerve racking time. Again your hoping for your opponent and wishful for yourself. Thankfully Lauren has had success in country music. We are close friends and I’m happy for her.”
McCreery rolled into 2012 with gusto. He picked the Best New Artist at the ACM Awards, spending most of the year opening for Brad Paisley, before putting out a Christmas album that went gold before the year was up. 2013 kept the McCreery train rolling adding Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the ACM’s. His single ‘See You Tonight’ from the album of the same name gave him his first Top 10 hit, with the follow up ‘Feelin’ It‘ charting the same path in April of 2014.
But a little dry patch forced him and his record label to part ways in 2017. Not deterred McCreery decided to use modern technology to reach his fans. Although he had signed with Triple 8 Management, and still without a label to back him he released ‘Five More Minutes‘ to digital retailers. Radio and fans embraced the song written after the loss of his grandfather, propelling the single to number one. It’s the first ever single to reach the top spot without the support of a record label. “That’s pretty amazing.” Still McCreery believes he has a higher power watching over him.
He did eventually sign with Triple Tigers Records (division of Sony) which helped ‘This Is It’ reach number one off his 2018 album ‘Seasons Change’. The title appears to reflect how he has evolved in the entertainment industry at a young age. He co-wrote all 11 tracks on the release. “This album is much more personal than the others I recorded. I enjoy song writing because I can connect to the songs better.”
There is much to like about Scotty McCreery. A young and focused country music artist, he received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 2017, the highest civilian award you can earn in North Carolina. His reach has spanned beyond country music. His 2018 ‘Barefootin’ song which he co-wrote with David Lee Murphy and Frank Rogers, was named the winner of the 2018 Carolina Beach Music Award for National Song of the Year. “That’s one I never expected. If you live and are raised in the Carolina’s it’s only natural you’re going to be exposed to beach music.”
Admittedly McCreery still has bucket list items. “There are always artists you want to write or record with. I’d love to work with Dolly (Parton) or Loretta Lynn. They are trailblazers and artists I admire.”
After 10 fast paced years, McCreery admits it was an adjustment slowing down when the pandemic took shape. “I definitely got a little antsy after about six months. I really hadn’t been home for this long a period of time in over a decade. I started this musical journey when I was 15, and by 16 I was auditioning for American Idol. And when I won I was just 17, so my life went on fast forward from that point. So I really hadn’t been home this long since 2010.”
There have been several upsides to forced time off. “I got to do some things around the house, and of course I had more time to concentrate on songwriting, but the biggest benefit was being able to relax and spend time with my wife. Being at home, and being able to wake up every morning with her has been a blessing.”
Now that things are slowly getting back to normal what is McCreery looking forward to. “Just getting in front of live audiences. There’s an instant rush I get from playing in front of a crowd.” McCreery had solo shows planned overseas that got cancelled in 2020. “I was scheduled to play smaller club dates in Ireland, Germany, and in London. Sadly that didn’t happen.”
Although there is no plan to re-schedule those dates, McCreery is on tap to play overseas next year when he goes on tour with Charleston’s own Darius Rucker. “I’ll be opening some shows for him. We’ve become good friends. We have much in common. We’re both from the Carolina’s, and both enjoy a good round of golf.”
Aside from the European shows, there is no plan for the Rucker-McCreery tour to continue in America. “Not that I’m aware of, but that would be awesome. Darius has a huge following here in the states. It would be cool to play golf with him in different cities during the day, and then perform on stage that night.”
7Low country fans won’t have to wait long to see one of their favorite country music artists. McCreery is returning to the Hanahan Amphitheatre on Thursday November 11th, an outdoor venue he played in the spring of 2019 with fellow American Idol alum Lauren Alaina, Adam Hambrick, and Carly Pearce who has become one of Nashville’s hottest stars. “I remember that show. It was a lot of fun. I’m big fans of all three.”
While the 2019 outing was more of a songwriters showcase much like the Bluebird Cafe, McCreery says this time out it will be different. “I’ll have my full band, so it will be more of a show. Honestly I just can’t wait to get back out on the road, the thrill I get, and the reaction I get from the crowd is hard to describe. I’ve missed it over the past year and a half. I’ve enjoyed connecting with my wife, but it’s time for artists to get back out there and do what we do best, and that is entertain the fans.”
Opening for McCreery will be Ryan Griffin and Randall Fowler. Griffin is riding high on his breakthrough debut single ‘Salt, Lime & Tequila’. Fowler, a Charleston native has opened for many high profile country artists including Tracy Lawrence, as well as showcasing his talents at the Windjammer, and has gained attention for his 2020 release ‘Slow it Down’. “Sounds like a good show all around. Can’t wait to return to Charleston.”
Whether he’s performing or not, Scotty McCreery is no stranger to the Holy City. “I love Charleston and the low country. Been coming there long before people knew who I was. I love the Isle of Palms. I took part in a bachelor party there a few years ago. It’s just a beautiful city, I love the beaches, and I know they love their country music in Charleston.” For more on McCreery visit his site at https://www.scottymccreery.com/
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