For Vince Gill, there's no place like home -- especially for recording his upcoming album, "Guitar Slinger."
Gill made the set -- due out Oct. 25 and his follow-up to 2006's Grammy Award-winning four-CD epic "These Days" -- at the studio he built in the Nashville home he shares with his wife, Amy Grant, and their children. And during the process home and studio became interchangeable, he notes.
"It was just a great environment," Gill, who co-produced "Guitar Slinger" with Justin Niebank and John Hobbs, tells Billboard.com. "When things come from home, they just feel different. I'm in there barefoot most of the time, maybe in a pair of gym shorts. I don't have to doll up and leave town, so to speak. You walk down the hall and there's the kitchen and Amy's in there knockin' up some brownies or making some cookies or whatever the heck...It doesn't feel commercial. It feels like somebody's home. The musicians who played on this record loved the vibe that went on in the process of recording these songs an spending time in the house. It doesn't feel like work, in a really neat kind of way. There were times where I didn't know if we were really working or just screwing off."
While "These Days" had the space for Gill to segment different styles, "Guitar Slinger" is a diverse set which remains country based but also touches on rock and Rhythm & Blues. "I think the only record I ever made that felt like a continuing kind of theme was 'The Key' back in '98, where I felt like all the songs came from a real traditional country place," Gill notes. "Every other record I've made has felt like all different places. chameleon-minded like I am. I guess that can be distracting to some degree, but it's very natural and honest, too."
"Guitar Slinger" is also something of a family affair, with three co-writes by Grant, who also duets on "True Love," and backing vocal appearances by daughters Jenny and Corrina Gill and Sarah Chapman. One of Grant's contributions, the set's first single "Threaten Me With Heaven," which has taken on a weighty touch since the April 2010 suicide of Will Owsley, who collaborated on that song and one other, "When Lonely Comes Around." Gill acknowledges that "Threaten Me With Heaven" "has a totally different impact on me now that (Owsley is) gone. I've never confronted something quite like that in my life, write a song with somebody and have them do that before it came to fruition and all that. So it's already had a profound impact on me.
"As bad as Will struggled in his personal life, I didn't think he would ever do that. In my heart, I just wish he could've hung on and seen this (song) have an opportunity to have an impact on people's lives. Maybe it would've changed things for him."
Gill, meanwhile, has plenty of other projects on his plate even as he prepares to bring out "Guitar Slinger." He guests on new albums by Alice Cooper's ("Welcome 2 My Nightmare") and Johnny Winter ("Roots"). He'll be taping a "CMT Crossroads" episode with Sting that will air in November -- "I need to lose 60 pounds before we get in front of the cameras," he jokes -- as well as playing at the former Police man's 60th birthday benefit concert on Oct. 1 at New York's Beacon Theatre. And Gill is getting ready to record the first album by the Time Jumpers, an all-star Western swing band that includes first-call Nashville players such as Paul Franklin, Jeff Taylor, Douglas B. Green from Riders in the Sky and more.
"I've kind of been energized by the thought of this next stretch of my life with the studio in my house," Gill explains. "I'm really motivated to spend a lot of time making some music and doing a tremendous amount of stuff because I know that I won't have that many years left to have all my faculties. I feel like I'm singing the best now that I ever have in my life, playing the best I ever have, writing the best I ever have. So I'm really motivated in this stretch of my life to be musical and creative and busy."