Ty Herndon, one of the most played male country acts of the mid to late 1990s, returns to the fold with a brand new project titled "Lies I Told Myself," out Oct. 22. He tells Billboard that the music on the disc represents a little bit more modern of a sound, which was somewhat of a challenge to an artist whose style is so well defined by hits like "What Mattered Most" and "Living In A Moment."
"When I went into the studio, I was bombarded by some of my artist friends like Jamie O'Neal and Billy Dean. We're always talking about reinventing ourselves. We're kids of the '90s, I would ask them 'What does that mean? Isn't it still about great songs?"
At the end of the day, that's the way the singer tried to approach it – find the best material while making a few changes with the arrangements of the songs. "It's been seven years since I went in for song meetings, sat down with people and started listening to songs. So, I kind of took some of that pressure off by telling myself the only thing I can do differently is work with some new engineers and producers. I started listening to a lot of records that I liked that were on the radio, and it's more of a pop sound with a country artist in the background. I tried to maintain and stay true to my aesthetic of being a country artist, but we rocked up the tracks a little bit, and had some great musicians and singers come in and do the background parts," he said. Evidently, the process suited him. "Quite honestly, I had more fun making this record than I did in a long time."
Maybe the most concise example of the feel that Herndon was going for was "Beautiful Love Song." While one of the most contemporary sounding songs on the disc, it has actually been floating around Music City for awhile.
"I loved it right away because of the demo," he said. "It was written eight years ago. The demo was still rocking, so they were ahead of their time. It's fun to sing, and very infectious," he said.
Another cut on the album is the uptempo "Sugar," which Herndon says has become a crowd favorite. "Matt Evans, who is Sara's brother, wrote it. It kind of reminds me of 'Steam.' It's fun and rocked out a little bit."
The set's first single is the touching title cut which he says has already made an undeniable impact on his crowds. "Never one time have I performed 'Lies I Told Myself' that people haven't started clapping during the performance. It really touches people, and that led me to name the album after the song, and have it be the radio single."
Herndon says that the song -- with lyrics about people defying the odds and succeeding against the grain – has inspired fans to tell them their stories of ways they have overcome adversity. "I sit with more fans and hear about songs I've had, like 'A Man Holdin' On,' 'What Mattered Most.' People love to tell me stories about their lives, and I've got some great story ideas from that. You should always take the time to listen."
When it all comes down to it, Herndon says those three-and-a-half- minute stories are still what matters most to him. Everything else changes, but touching listeners' lives is the same today as it was in 1995. "I think you're constantly starting over in this business. There's no guarantees that you will stay where you are. What I've learned to be the most important thing is to put music out there that fans are going to want to tell you 'Hey, you're singing about my life.' I've made a career out of that. I don't plan on stopping that way of thinking."