Editors' Notes Even though he’s still in his twenties, Brett Kissel has been a major figure in the Canadian country scene since 2013, with over a dozen national hits and numerous industry awards to show for it. He covers all the bases: He’s an affable, earnest entertainer; a striver who writes, plays, and produces; a proud family man who hails from rural ranching stock and has hung on to the same cowboy hat since his early teens; a champion of his genre and its icons who also eagerly embraces contemporary pop influences. With Now or Never, his fourth major-label album, he’s looking to break into the broader country scene. To pull that off, Kissel worked with his longtime co-producer, Saskatoon-based Bart McKay; added a new studio collaborator to the mix, Nashville-based Jacob Durrett; and found co-writers and song sources all over the place. He aimed to cover a lot of stylistic territory in a brisk eight tracks, from straight-ahead modern country to power balladry, amped-up club fare, and acoustic folk-rock textures. “I just felt there was a little bit of something for everybody on this record, which was by design,” he says. “I'm so deep-rooted in tradition that I feel I'm allowed to push the boundaries of country music, because my heroes did that too.” Here Kissel walks through the stories behind each of Now or Never's eight songs.

Drink About Me
“I wanted to do something that was midtempo that, to me, showed maturity. I mean, it's a drinking song disguised as a memory song and a memory song disguised as a drinking song. It needed to be slow, tender, intimate, but still have enough power in the choruses. So Jacob made me lie down for the verses and just pretend as though I'm lying in bed reminiscing about what the lyrics are saying. Then I would stand up and do the choruses and I would belt it out.”

A Few Good Stories
“I kind of was hoping that this song would be the wakeboarding song of the summer of 2020, and anywhere that I go playing all these festivals, that this would be something that people would crank at their campsites. It was written by Rhett Akins, Ben Hayslip, and Chris Stevens—guys who have written every massive song for Blake Shelton and Jason Aldean and Thomas Rhett. So I was listening to the way that those guys deliver those big summer anthems and trying my very best to, I guess, put on my best Thomas Rhett on that track.”

That's Country Music
“It's my ode to my heroes, the way they sang and what they sang about. It's my favourite song possibly I've ever written, because I love this genre so much. I mean [my priorities] go my kids and my wife and then country music. I wanted to make sure I had something really traditional on this record to counteract something that was really pop.”

Young Enough
“As a dad, I think it's more important to be present every day than it's ever been. And I still want to soak in my kids even more than I do. I can't get enough of them. I can't get enough of my wife. I can't get enough of the memories that we've made, and I just want to do more. So I would love for people to listen to ‘Young Enough’ and have that be an important song in their playlist that can be a reminder of the way that people can live their lives. A lot of my fanbase are in a certain demographic where they're about to have kids or they're about to get married, they're about to fall in love. So I hope that they can listen to this song and soak in the moments where they are right now while they are young enough, while they are capable to take on the world and do everything that they want to do.”

She Drives Me Crazy
“To me, it sounds like Vegas. It's got a vibe of Pitbull and Taio Cruz and Usher and JT. My wife and I went to Vegas for our 21st birthdays—it was 2011. And some of those big club hits were big moments in my early twenties. I wanted to bring the live energy that I'll have opening for Garth Brooks in a stadium or headlining at a festival into the room. So I actually would watch live footage of my heroes in the studio before I went to go cut the record. My producer Jacob was like, ‘Do a bunch of push-ups and go run around the block and then come back in out of breath and belt out this chorus.’ I pretended it was a live show. It was sometimes the silliest things, but I think it made a big difference and I really hope it comes through on the record.”

Hummingbird
“Myself, Karen Kosowski, and Emma-Lee Doty, when we were in our session in Karen's studio, I told them a story about how I actually caught a hummingbird when I was nine years old. I was just really patient. I just stood out there by the feeder for an hour and a hummingbird landed in my hand and I closed my hand and I caught it, and I brought it in the house and showed my family and then I let it go. Emma-Lee and Karen just start vibing on a Kacey Musgraves folk type of deal, and within another 45 minutes, we wrote ‘Hummingbird.’”

I'm Not Him, I'm Not Her (feat. Christina Taylor)
I miss the great duets of the past—’70s, ’80s, and especially ’90s. Brooks & Dunn and Reba McEntire had this incredible song called ‘If You See Him, If You See Her.’ I think to myself, ‘That is a couple that used to be together and wished that they could still come back together.’ I wanted to take a page out of Brooks & Dunn and Reba's playbook and write this song about all the baggage of past relationships. Honestly, this is, to me, a really big topic. People meet online. Everyone has baggage. A relationship that was maybe supposed to work somehow didn't. And it really throws people and affects people to their core. I thought it was a unique perspective, yet it still talks about what everybody's going through right now.”

Coffee With Her
“I finished that song with Bart. I remember putting all the lights off and just thinking about Cecilia, my wife, as well as my little kids.”

SONG
Drink About Me
1
3:11
 
A Few Good Stories
2
2:44
 
That's Country Music
3
4:15
 
Young Enough
4
3:20
 
She Drives Me Crazy
5
3:04
 
Hummingbird
6
2:56
 
I'm Not Him, I'm Not Her (feat. Christina Taylor)
7
3:51
 
Coffee with Her
8
2:41
 

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