"I think that as an artist, sometimes for you to grow, you have to take those risks rather than put out the same song each time"
Jake Owen has taken his share of risks over the past few years. His last album, "Barefoot Blue Jean Night," firmly established him as one of the leading male vocalists in the format -- with four number one records. But, rather than do the same exact thing for the follow-up, Owen's restless creative spirit evoked the singer to roll the dice again for "Days of Gold," the rollicking first single and title cut from his new set, which is in stores today.
"I think it's different," said the singer in a new interview with Billboard. "I don't know if it's so out there that people would get offended by it. But, we did take a chance. It's a risk reward thing. I think that as an artist, sometimes for you to grow, you have to take those risks rather than put out the same song each time. You look back on careers of people who had songs that were just a little bit different, and that's what we did."
So far, so good for the experiment, The song is currently No. 22 on the Hot Country Songs chart. "It's been great. We got a lot of people's attention. ESPN and 'College Gameday' picked the song up, which definitely helped a lot," he says, adding that he had to push his label, RCA, a little bit to get the song released. "It was my opinion. I had to tell the label that I really wanted this song as the first single."
One difference between "Days of Gold" and his previous releases is that Owen didn't write any of the songs on the set. He says that while some artists might be bothered by such a fact, that's fine with him.
"The first two records I made, I wrote everything," he notes. "On Barefoot Blue Jean Night, I wrote 'The One That Got Away.' But, the songs that started changing my world were the ones I just sat back and picked as a fan. I would hear a song, and think 'I love this song. I'd love to hear that on the radio.'
He says that history is on his side in a couple of ways with not writing everything. "You look at guys like George Strait or Kenny Chesney – guys who have had huge careers, they didn't write everything. So, I'm ok with that," he says, adding that he feel more support from the industry -- for obvious reasons. "There's a lot more people in town with a lot more vested interest in my career, and pulling for me than before. Why would they? I was writing everything I cut. It's great to have more people into you and excited for what you're doing."
One cut from the set that should have his fans excited is "1972," of which Owen says "The feel of it resembles the title. It's got a cool Stones-y kind of feel to it. It's a southern rock kind of thing, and I love all the throwback references to Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, and 'Daddy drove a Nova that was sky blue.' There's just a cool groove to it."
Whether headlining his own tour, or opening for acts like Jason Aldean, Owen says being out on the road is something that he feels very passionate about. "You have to be. It's important. I love staying out in front of people, not just to stay relevant, but it's like a test drive for what you're doing. I have learned so much about my own show by playing it over and over. I've spent hours and days rehearsing something we thought was great, but you go out and play it on the road, and they don't get it. You have to feel it on the run. For me, getting to play means not only that I get to hone my craft in a sense, but also test out new songs and see how they are working. I think that's why I stay out working so much – not to mention everyone's got to work," said the husband and father, whose daughter Olive Pearl will celebrate her second Christmas this month.