Standing Room Only

Standing Room Only

Tim McGraw is one of country music’s biggest superstars, but the award-winning artist still has plenty to share three decades into his larger-than-life career. His 16th studio album inspires hope, explores the resiliency of the human spirit, and, perhaps most importantly for McGraw, encourages forgiveness as a radical and necessary act of love. “I was trying to find songs that were inspiring and songs that were life-affirming,” McGraw tells Apple Music. “And songs that were about [how] we all make mistakes and we're going to make [more] mistakes and we're going to do bad stuff. All you can do is try to get up the next day and be the best you can be that day and know you're going to screw up again later down the road.” McGraw plotted and recorded Standing Room Only during the pandemic, shortly after the release of its predecessor, Here on Earth, for which McGraw was unable to tour. The pent-up energy of lockdown, as well as the increasingly fraught state of the broader world, led McGraw to look inward, seeking songs that dug a little deeper into the beauty and the messiness that come with being human. On the poignant, Lori McKenna-penned closing track “Letter From Heaven,” for example, McGraw considers intergenerational relationships both as a child to his parents and as a parent himself, a perspective that allows him to offer grace in the face of his own parents’ shortcomings. “She's got a connection with me about songs and about thoughts and about life,” McGraw says of McKenna. “We really connect on all sorts of levels.” McKenna also features on “Nashville CA/L.A. Tennessee,” which she and McGraw wrote alongside his longtime acoustic guitarist Bob Minner. The nostalgic track has roots in an old Cadillac Escalade McGraw can’t bear to part with because the vehicle has “so many memories in it,” he says. “Hauling kids to football games and basketball games, softball games, baseball games, all that stuff.”

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