Josh Turner fans are seeing double these days. In an industry where artists usually release a new project every twelve to eighteen months, the South Carolina native has two albums out -- within a three month span. In June, the singer issued his latest studio effort, "Punching Bag," and he has just partnered up with Cracker Barrel for a new live disc, "Josh Turner -- Live Across America."
"Bag" debuted at No. 1 on the Country Albums chart on June 21 and is currently at No. 19, while the new album bows at No. 9 this week. Two albums in the Top 20? Not bad.
"It was definitely not how we planned it, but it just happened that way," Turner tells Billboard in a new interview. "It was my first experience at releasing two records in a year, much less the same summer."
However, the opportunity to work again with the restaurant chain was one he didn't want to pass up. "We've always had a great partnership. We do understand the country lifestyle and the southern atmosphere. I think the biggest thing is their company motto is 'Pleasing People,' and that's the way I go about my business, too. I want to please my fans. I want them to come back to the shows, continue to buy my records, and I do everything I can to give them good quality entertainment, and keep them coming back. It's great for us to work together on that front."
Cracker Barrel is the sponsor of Turner's 2012 tour, and the two collaborated on the 2007 project "Josh Turner - Live At The Ryman." The singer says he can hear a lot of change and maturity from that disc on the new project. "I learned a lot from the first one we did. I felt as if I had grown up a lot. I had learned how to do things a little better and a little more easier. We really didn't have time to make a record this summer, but my manager had the idea to take a rig out on the road, and record every show that we did - about seventeen shows, and wetook the most magical performances from each night. We ended up with twelve songs from twelve different cities across the country."
Though one might wonder about a cohesive thread with such a concept, Turner says he was pleased with the results. "You would think that it would be hard to make a record flow when each song was recorded in a different city, but it does have a cool energy to it, and it feels good," he says.
The album features ten past hits, a popular album cut ("So Not My Baby"), and a cover version of Sammy Johns' "America," a top ten hit from 1984 by Waylon Jennings.
"I always loved his raw honesty. He was always Waylon Jennings whether you liked it or not," Turner says of the Country Music Hall of Famer. "At the same time, he was still relevant, and still able to relate to a broad range of people -- including me. When I was looking at the concept of this record, and the journey we had been on, I was looking for a song that spoke to the journey of America. But, I wasn't looking for a straight-up patriotic song. The first one that came to mind was 'America,' because I thought it alluded to the story of our country, and what we've been -- and continue to go through."