Getting a little more serious on his latest album didn't seem to hurt country singer Trace Adkins with his fans.
With first week sales of 46,600 copies, Adkins' 10th studio album, "Proud to Be Here," bowed at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and No. 2 on the Country Albums chart (last week's No. 1 Eric Church bested him). It's a better chart showing than last year's more lighthearted "Cowboy's Back in Town," which topped the Country chart but debuted at No. 5 on the 200. That set, however, sold about 50,000 copies in its first week, but Adkins was prepared for "Proud to Be Here" to come up short of that mark.
"We just don't sell CDs like we used to," he told Billboard.com before the album's release. "We live in this download age, and it's a singles-driven industry now and most people are only going to judge you and only get to know you by the songs that they hear on the radio or the singles that they download. I personally am dismayed by that, and it bums me out, man. I know the work that goes into these... albums, and not just on my part.
I'm convinced this is one of the best albums I've ever done. I'm very proud of the music on this record, so it kinda bums me out that not a lot of people are gonna be exposed to it."
Video: Watch Trace's "Just Fishin'"
But, Adkins quickly added, "I'm still having fun making records. I'm still having fun going in the studio. It still stimulated me getting around those creative people. I really get a lot of enjoyment out of it."
Regardless of Adkins' feelings about sales trends, it's clear that fans are still buying into "Proud to Be Here" despite the fact that the album's tone is somewhat more serious and darker than its predecessor. "I thought perhaps I just went a little farther than I should have in the levity direction on the last one," explained Adkins, whose Nashville home burned down in a June fire, sending him and his family to live on their farm outside the city. I didn't do as much of the funny stuff on this one. I think (the albums) are just a reflection of where my head is... and last time I was real excited about going to the new label (Show Dog-Universal) and everything, and everything was just hunky dory, so I went a little too far on the grinnin' side. But this time I've leveled off a little bit, and this one's more balanced."
Adkins has concerts, festivals and fair dates booked into November, including a show with the Judds on Sept. 29 in Minot, Idaho. He's also eyeballing acting opportunities and more album projects; in addition to conventional studio albums he said that a live set "is on the list to do, along with a Christmas album, which I haven't done yet.
"I still have things I want to do. I keep working and pushing and applying myself like I still have mountains to climb. I'm satisfied with my place in music history; I've been around 15 years, and I think that I have at least proven to myself that I've had some worth. But I approach everything like I still have something to prove."