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Wade Bowen on His Self-Titled Album: 'It's Different From Anything I've Done'

Wade Bowen
Joshua Black Wilkins

Wade Bowen

For his just-dropped seventh album, Texas singer Wade Bowen decided to go in a different direction. For starters, instead of brainstorming about an album title for weeks, he went with the self-titled approach -- a rarity for an established country artist.

"I had a few different ideas for the title that were floating around, but none of them really stuck," he tells Billboard. "I kept listening to the record, and I thought, 'Don't do the normal thing. Go against the grain.'"

Bowen admits the same philosophy also extended itself to the recording process. "I just wanted to have fun with this record, and make sure it's different from anything I've done. I think this is sort of a reset button for me in my career."

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"I went into the studio with the guys, and before we made a single sound, I told them, 'If there's something you normally can't play or were told not to, this is the record to do that on. You can't get too weird or have too much fun. See what happens. If we don't like it, we can try something else. This is your chance to play music for all the right reasons.'"

Bowen also tells Billboard that he took his time in recording the album. "I might have been a little selfish making this record. On all of my earlier records, I think I felt like I had something to prove -- either as an artist or a writer. On this album, I think I threw all of that out the window, and didn't think about any of that. I just wanted to make a record that I could feel good about and not worry about it."

The disc contains some of Bowen's most potent lyrical work to date, such as the moving "When I Woke Up Today."

"I actually wrote that song a while back," Bowen says. "I go in and out of phases as a writer of trying to write songs that are about the road. Then I get out of it, thinking that people really don't want to hear about it. This really describes what we go through emotionally dealing with the road in seeing various things that affect us. There really was a funeral procession that we drove through, a girl crying at a bus stop. All of those things remind me of how blessed I am, and how I need to stop taking it for granted, and just enjoy my life."

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Bowen said that his personal favorite song on the album is the nostalgic "West Texas Rain," which takes him back to his roots. "I grew up in Central Texas, but went to college and started playing music in West Texas. I look back on those days all the time as the beginning of my career -- trying to put a band together, meeting friends, and trying to beg bars to let us play while I was learning to write songs. That was a great way to write about it, and encompass all of the crazy ups and downs, and all that I've been through into one song."

Bowen has seen it all during his career so far, from being on top of the Texas music scene to signing with Nashville's BNA in 2012 and releasing The Given, his top 10 album on the U.S. Top Country Album chart. He says he tries to stay as balanced as he can in his career and life.

"For me, the best thing is trying to stay as even-keeled as well as you can. Try not to get your emotions too high or low, and remember that when great things happen to you in this business, something will humble you the very next second, and vice versa. It's a crazy roller coaster of a business, but that's also something I really cherish about it. I'm very lucky to be doing it. I've dug a lot of ditches in my life, crawled in a lot of attics and under houses, and I wouldn't trade it for anything."

Enjoy Billboard's stream of the new self-titled album from Wade Bowen below:


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