Sweethearts of the Rodeo Rope First Album in 16 Years
Sweethearts of the Rodeo Rope First Album in 16 Years

It's been sixteen years since they released new music, but the Sweethearts of the Rodeo are back this week with "Restless." Why the long wait for Kristine Arnold and Janis Oliver? "Life just got in the way," Arnold explained to Billboard. "We were focusing on other things, and before you know it, a big chunk of time had flown by. We just wanted to get in the studio again and record another project together."

Oliver said that it was a yearly date - the day after Thanksgiving - at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville that kept the sisters' creative juices flowing, eventually leading them to going back into the studio.

"We had been doing the same date for about ten years, and every year, we would always say 'Let's write some songs, find some songs, and play more dates, but then we would get busy with our kids, maintaining a family life, and get totally distracted. But, this time, when we started working on this record, the timing was right. It went from that gig at the Bluebird to us getting together every Friday night, and that led to this album."

"Restless" teams the duo with longtime Nashville bass standout Dave Pomeroy as producer. Arnold said he definitely took a hands-on approach to the recording process.

"This was one of the first times I have ever worked with a producer that was standing in the studio, playing live with the rest of us," Arnold said, noting Pomeroy is a "fantastic" bass player and that the group recorded songs live. "I had never done that before."

The album is chock-full of highlights, including the romantic "Maybe Tonight," a song that Oliver says is a little ironic.

"I wrote that with my ex-husband, Vince Gill," she said. "We were married for eighteen years, and we wrote it as we were nearing the end of our relationship. The song, however, is about the beginning of a relationship. Maybe it was both of us reflecting about the sweetness of a relationship beginning."

Another track on the disc that the Sweethearts are excited about is "Hopeless Rose," co-written in part by Jon Randall and Pistol Annies member Ashley Monroe. Oliver said the song impressed her from the start.

"I wish I had written it," she said. "It paints a picture of these two characters, and I see them in my mind."

The Sweethearts will be touring to promote "Restless," and Arnold says they could not be happier.

"When you're out there on the road, you focus on the show coming up, and we enjoy it so much," she said. "Maybe the first go round, I took things for granted, but I guarantee you that now, I'm not taking a thing for granted. Now, our kids are grown, and they're women now, so we don't have kids at home to worry about. It's just a great time."