Jamey Johnson will give fans plenty of new material when he releases "The Guitar Song," his follow-up to 2008's award-winning, gold-certified "That Lonesome Song," on Sept. 14.
"The Guitar Song" spreads 25 songs across two CDs -- including "Macon," a track that's now available at all digital retailers and via Johnson's web site and which he plans to perform at Wednesday's CMT Music Awards in Nashville. The set is divided into two parts: the 12-song "Black Album" and the 13-track "White Album," which reflect the tone of the songs contained on each disc. The album was produced by the "That Lonesome Song" team the Kent Hardly Playboys -- Johnson, Jim "Moose" Brown, Dave McAfee, Wayd Battle, T.W. Cargile, Kevin "Swine" Grant and "Cowboy" Eddie Long -- with Arlis Albritton joining the crew on "Good Morning Sunshine," which he also composed. It was recorded at studios in Nashville, Los Angeles and Key West, Fla.
Johnson wrote or co-wrote nearly all of the tracks, collaborating with Bobby Bare, James Otto, Rivers Rutherford, Buddy Cannon Vicky McGehee, Shane Minor, Charlie Midnight and Alabama's Teddy Gentry, among others. Bill Anderson co-wrote and guests on "The Guitar Song's" title track, while Randy Houser and Mac McAnally also appear on the set. "The Guitar Song" also includes covers of Kris Kristofferson's "For the Good Times," Mel Tillis' "Mental Revenge," Vern Gosdin's "Set 'em Up Joe" and the Keith Whitley/Don Cook/Chick Raines co-write "Lonely at the Top."
While making the album, Johnson told Billboard.com that "it's been really fun for me. The past several times we've been in the studio is just...it stays fresh, it stays new and we're always looking for innovative ways to bring our songs to the people." He added that in the wake of "That Lonesome Song's" success he was keeping his standards high for the new set. "Our days of going in and knocking an album out in one day are probably done," he explained. "We won't even put (a song) in the studio if it's not special to us. So the likelihood of me cutting anything that's not special or that's not a keeper is pretty much not there."
Johnson was also excited about working with Alabama's Gentry, who co-wrote the track "By the Seat of Your Pants." "He's great. We've gotten to be very good friends. We share common lineage together, both from Alabama and growing up listening to the same kind of music, and we have the same background. Hanging out with him in a writing room is no different than hanging out and fishing or hunting or something like that. It's just that camaraderie that friends share, and every now and then a song may kick out and we'll know where to take it from there."
Johnson is one of the headliners of the Country Throwdown package tour, which resumes June 12 in Salt Lake City. He also plays the next night at the Bonnaroo Music Festival and has a few other festival shows scheduled for the summer, including Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic in Austin, Texas. Johnson is also launching an App which gives fans access to music, videos, news and tour dates.