As he heads out on the road for his headlining Blackout Tour on Jan. 28, Brantley Gilbert is more than three dozen songs into his next album, the follow-up to 2014’s Just As I Am. But even though the country star’s fans want it yesterday, Gilbert himself is in no rush.
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“I’ve got to go with a gut feeling, and I don’t have it yet,” Gilbert tells Billboard. “There’s still a couple gaps we need to fill. I think we’ve got a record with the songs we have, but I want an album. I don’t want to release a CD; I want to release the real deal, so we’re just gonna take our time. I’ve learned from past experience that any time I’ve tried to put a time stamp on it I end up shooting myself in the foot and I wind up writing three songs the day before it’s supposed to come out. So we end up releasing a gold edition and then a platinum edition and you end up with a record that has almost 20 songs on it. We’re just being patient right now and diligent at the same time, writing every chance I get and writing with a purpose, and when I know I’ve got it, it’ll come out.
Gilbert has been writing songs with regular cohorts such as Brian Davis, Ben Hayslip and Rhett Akins, and he’s adding Casey Beathard, Justin Weaver, Ashley Gorley and others into the mix. “It’s been a really, really, really cool year — a lot of different songs, ideas, a lot of different melodies, and I kinda throw my thing on top of ’em and see what it comes out sounding like,” Gilbert says. “It’s been a lot of fun. And we’re going to keep going and branch out more and see if I can trump what I already have.”
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Fans can also expect more songs inspired by his wife Amber, who Gilbert married last summer. “Looking back, if not every love song I’ve ever written then almost all of them, she’s the girl I’ve identified that feeling with, and I don’t think much’ll change on that end,” he says. “The awesome part about my wife is I’ve written love songs about her, I’ve written break-up songs about her, I’ve written mean songs to her that are on the soon-to-never-be-released album. She’s really cool with it. When I write something, she’s my first critic. She give me a pretty unfiltered, honest opinion, which is great, too.”
While the album is under construction, there’s still life left in Just As I Am, which debuted at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart and No. 2 on the Billboard 200 during May of 2014. Gilbert and Valory are considering a fifth single to follow “Bottoms Up,” “Small Town Throwdown,” “One Hell of an Amen” and “Stone Cold Sober,” and he promises that “If we do it won’t be something just to fill the time ’til the next (album). I really think there’s a lot of good songs on this record that would make good singles.” Gilbert is also gearing up for the Jan. 28 start of his headlining Blackout Tour, which will stretch into the summer with a package he hopes to announce soon.
Gilbert’s other big coup of late: teaming with Brad Paisley and Justin Moore as guests on “Born To Boogie,” the closing track on the new Hank Williams Jr. album It’s About Time. “It was really cool,” Gilbert gushes. “When people have asked me in the past, ‘Is there anybody you want to do a song with?’ it’s always been him. I’ve told everybody I’d love to do a song with him, and he reached out and we went in and did it. I gotta tell ya, I was pretty stoked.”