Group spent five years with DreamWorks Nashville.

Three-month-old Nashville indie label Midas Records has signed the Canadian country band Emerson Drive as its flagship act.

The group, which previously spent five years on the DreamWorks Records Nashville roster, is readying its Midas debut with four producers at the helm: Midas A&R chiefs Keith Follese and Brad Allen, along with Teddy Gentry of the group Alabama and Josh Leo. The album is due early next summer, with a first single expected at country radio in February.

The band previously recorded two albums for DreamWorks, a self-titled debut in 2002 and the 2004 follow-up, “What If?” Both landed in the top 15 on Billboard Top Country Albums chart. The first CD spawned two top five hits, “I Should Be Sleeping” and “Fall Into Me.” But follow-up singles were less successful and they were dropped from the label last year.

Since then, the group has been working with Gentry and Leo in the studio “finding out what we think is missing and what we need to work on,” lead singer Brad Mates says. The band members first got to know Gentry when they opened several dates for Alabama over the last few years. The end result of their collaboration is a CD Mates calls “the strongest album we've put out yet.”

Follese says the band has found a sound that's “rootsier, earthier” and less “slick” than their previous work, while still “unmistakably Emerson Drive.” He goes as far as to describe the band’s new style as “Alabama-esque. They don't sound like Alabama,” he explains, “but you’ll know Teddy was involved.”

Mates has a harder time explaining the sound, but says, “If you want to call it more raw or rootsy, that's a good place to start.” He describes the band's last two albums as being “a little bit overproduced.”

In the year they’ve been without a label deal, Mates says he and band mates Mike Melancon, Dale Wallace, Danick DuPelle, Patrick Bourque and Dave Pichette did “some soul-searching” to rediscover what Emerson Drive “was all about in the beginning.” With this new project, he says, “we just nailed it on the head.”

Midas was launched earlier this fall by gaming and construction entrepreneur Ron Clapper. Its management includes Mike Martinovich, Stan Moress and Al Schiltz of Nashville artists management firm the Consortium, along with Follese, a top country songwriter, and Allen, a successful music publisher.

Label execs have also signed newcomer Lindsey Grant, and will release her debut single in April. Additionally, Midas will put out a single from the winner of the Colgate Country Challenge, to be selected in January, with an option for a full album. Follese says label execs are also in negotiations with two male acts for the roster.

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