Where We Started

Where We Started

In the near-decade since releasing his debut album It Goes Like This, Thomas Rhett has had a massive influence on country music. His pop-leaning, often soulful brand of radio country not only spawned hits like “Die a Happy Man” and “Crash and Burn,” but inspired a younger generation of singer-songwriters who aren’t afraid to play with genres outside the confines of country. Where We Started, his sixth studio album, is something of a capstone on the first decade of his career, bringing together the mix of heartfelt love songs and laidback party anthems for which he’s come to be loved. “Church Boots” draws on Thomas Rhett’s own roots to connect with the everyman country fan. “Half of Me,” featuring Riley Green, is a playful ode to cracking open a cold one. “Death Row,” a collaboration with Tyler Hubbard and Russell Dickerson, is the album’s most powerful moment, inspired by a real-life performance the trio gave for death row inmates at a men’s prison. And the title track is an endlessly catchy duet with Katy Perry, further strengthening his connection to the pop world. “I think it's really important to look back at where you began, because you can't really be happy about your future until you look back and understand, like, 'Dang, we started with zero,'” he tells Apple Music. “And the blessings that we've achieved at this point are so incredible. I'm at a very reflective point in my life and really just grateful for the things that have happened for me, not only professionally but with my family.” Below, Thomas Rhett breaks down several key tracks on Where We Started. “The Hill” “If you look back at some of the credits of my last few records, you're not going to see very many songs without my name on them. After I wrote ‘Die a Happy Man,’ I felt like if I wasn't involved with the song, then it would always be a great song, but not have that sense of personalness that I bring to a session. I think people can write a song about love, but it's never going to fully represent how I feel about my wife, without at least me throwing my two cents into the song. And I'm a fixer in our relationship, so anytime [my wife] Lauren is upset, I'm just wondering what I can do. ‘How do I fix what I just said?’ ‘Oh, Lord, could I please take that comment back?’ And they sent me this song the next day and I was in tears in the kitchen listening to it, because I was like, ‘I feel like I wrote this song.’” “Church Boots” “I think the whole idea of that song is that I'm the same dude regardless of the situation that I'm in. I hold on to things that mean something to me. I wear the same jeans Friday that I wear on Sunday. I wear the same boots on Sunday that I wear to work in the field on a Monday or Tuesday. And I just felt like that song was so relatable to so many people of just being like, ‘Hey, are you going to wear that? Are you going to dress like that for church?’ And you're like, ‘Well, I am. I wipe the dust off my boots and we're ready to go.’ That's how my dad is. That's how my granddaddy is. That's how I am, and obviously how a lot of people are in the world, too. So it just felt like a unique way to say that I'm always the same dude through and through.” “Angels” “I wrote that song with Teddy Swims, Josh Thompson, and Julian Bunetta. I wrote it from a personal perspective, just like, ‘Dang, the things that I have done with you by my side, I don't understand how you're still here. You've traveled with me for 800,000 shows, you sat with me during radio interviews, you went everywhere with me and were always my rock and did it with such grace.’ Because this is just not an easy career to be married in. I just looked at my wife and I was like, ‘I think that you might not be a real human sometimes. I think that you might be a living, walking angel.’” “Half of Me” (feat. Riley Green) “The story of that song is one of my favorites, I think, on the record. We were on the road, just me and my dad, Josh Thompson and Will Bundy, and we had just got done writing a song that no one really liked, which is always a bummer on the road. Stepping off the bus, I looked at Josh and I said, ‘Hey, man, let's get after another song later tonight, I'm tapped for now. Do you want to go work out? Do you want to go eat some food?’ And he was like, ‘Nah. Half of me wants to drink a cold beer, and so does the other half.’ And we both looked at each other and we were like, ‘Okay, let's go write that,’ and literally went on the bus and wrote that song in 45 minutes.” “Death Row” (feat. Tyler Hubbard and Russell Dickerson) “Me, Tyler, and Russell got asked to go sing some songs for some inmates that were currently serving time on death row. Before you know it, we played for an hour. And at the very last song that we sang, one of the guys was like, ‘Y'all have to get this guy to sing you his version of “Amazing Grace.”’ And so this guy up top, whose foot was chained to the ground, he came down into where we were sitting, and God, he sang the most beautiful version of ‘Amazing Grace’ you ever heard. I don't know what I felt, but I do know that after getting done playing the songs and just talking with some of them, I just felt this empathy, like, ‘We've all made terrible mistakes in our lives and some end up being way worse than others,’ but also realizing there's always room for redemption.” “Slow Down Summer” “Looking back at my catalog, I think people loved songs like ‘Marry Me’ just because that was a weird concept coming from a guy that writes so many love songs. So I felt like putting this song out brought back a little bit of what people loved from ‘Marry Me’ and turned it into a different, unique idea called ‘Slow Down Summer.’ And it's been a really cool way to start this record off, because I feel like, if that's the introduction, there's a lot of different directions we can go now that I think will completely catch people off guard, in a good way.” “Us Someday” “During the time of that recording process, I'd been listening to a lot of Beatles songs. One of my favorite Beatles songs is ‘Eleanor Rigby,’ and that song starts out with a string section and it continues the entire way through. In country music, strings are not a super popular instrument, because, I think, it makes you feel like Sinatra or big-band stuff. But it was interesting once the strings came in with drums and acoustic guitar and a steel guitar; it just all made sense. And I think it makes that song really stand out on the record, just from a production standpoint. And lyrically, it’s something that I think a lot of people enjoy hearing from me.” “Where We Started” (feat. Katy Perry) “I really didn't have any intention of having a feature on this track, but my label was saying, like, ‘Hey, this would be cool with maybe a female feature.’ And I was like, ‘Well, who are y'all thinking that you want to ask?’ And they said, ‘Katy Perry.’ And I literally laughed. I was like, ‘There's no way that she is going to, first of all, like this song, or, second of all, have any interest in doing a song with me.’ And she literally got back with our management the next day and said yes. And that's just a God thing. You can't make that stuff up. I've been a fan of Katy since I was like 14 years old. In my opinion she’s a pop icon of my generation.”

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