Country Countdown: Brantley Gilbert's 'Know' Hits No. 1
Country Countdown: Brantley Gilbert's 'Know' Hits No. 1

Country star is nine songs into a followup to 2010's 'Halfway to Heaven'

With two No. 1, gold-certified singles and a gold album under his belt buckle, Brantley Gilbert promises he'll be coming out "rockin'" on his third album, which he's started working on with producer Dann Huff.

"This one's definitely gonna be rockin'," Gilbert tells Billboard. "It'll have the girl songs on there, too, of course, the little softer side, but it's pretty intense. Y'know, 'Modern Day Prodigal Son' (his 2009 debut) told a story, a chapter of my life, from the time I was born 'til the last couple years of high school. (2010's) 'Halfway to Heaven' picked up where that left off. Now it's been more than two years since 'Halfway to Heaven,' so I'll be covering the next chapter of my life and pick up where that one left off.

"I was on the road for a lot of that time, y'know? We've been so busy since 'Halfway to Heaven' came out. We haven't spent that much time at home or got to do much of anything but work. I wrote a lot on the road, so a lot of the context is memories and things that happened out there. And, of course, there's a little bit of attitude in there."

Gilbert, who topped the Country Songs chart with "Country Must Be Country Wide" and "You Don't Know Her Like I Do," says he and Huff have narrowed a list of 250 potential songs down to 35, with "nine solid songs we know are going on," including "The Lights of My Home Town," which Gilbert has played once publicly, at a benefit concert in Jefferson, Ga. "Now it's just finding the other ones out of the 35 that we want and finish them up."

Gilbert adds that he wrote or co-wrote all of the songs that he's considering for the album. "I don't put out anything I don't write, and I don't write about anything I haven't experienced," he says. "A lot of artists are good at picking songs that relate to situations in their lives and can express them well. But I'm a little selfish; it's got to be about me. That's the only way I can get that expression, that kind of passion you need for a song. Otherwise I don't feel like it's real."

Gilbert, who's dating fellow country singer Jana Kramer, says he has "no idea" when he'll finish the album and have it ready to release, but he and Huff will be in the studio this month. He acknowledges that "it's definitely been a minute" since "Halfway to Heaven," and the wait is only increasing expectations for his next move.

"We're definitely excited to get in there and play some new songs," he notes. "We've been playing the same ones for quite awhile now. We love 'em, but it's time for something new."