For over two decades, Brett James has written career-defining songs for countless artists including Carrie Underwood (“Jesus Take the Wheel,” “Love Wins”), Kelly Clarkson (“Mr. Know It All”), Kenny Chesney (“Out Last Night,” “When the Sun Goes Down”) and Dierks Bentley (“I Hold On”). Today, the Nashville-based hit songwriter is releasing some music of his own.
James will drop “True Believer,” his first single as a solo artist in nearly two decades, on Friday (Feb. 7). The heartfelt ballad he penned for his daughter will be featured on his upcoming EP, I Am Now, out March 27 via Songs of Brett/Label Logic/Ingrooves, and marks the beginning of his first solo project in over 20 years.
The poignant ballad has James’ soulful voice at the forefront alongside delicate strums of an acoustic guitar and soaring string accompaniment. Throughout the beautiful tune that he wrote for his 19-year-old daughter, he promises to always be there for her. “I’ll be your true believer/ The secret place you hide/ Your promise never leaver/ I’m always on your side,” he sings on the chorus.
“Having written songs for other artists for so long, I’ve gotten used to not writing from personal experience,” James tells Billboard. “When ‘True Believer’ started to fall out of the sky in my studio, though, I knew immediately that it was for my daughter, Clare. I really just started playing that guitar riff and the words and melody fell out in an hour or so.
“I realized afterward that it can be about anyone that you believe in. It’s for anyone you want to know that you’ve got their back no matter what. It’s been inspiring to finally write songs for me to sing, and I’m stoked that this the first song off of this EP that’s all about love, love and more love.”
James debuted several songs off the project at a recent show at Nashville’s famed Bluebird Café. He introduced the title track “I Am Now” as his “new, hippie song” which he penned with frequent collaborators J.T. Harding and Chris Stevens. It’s the only song he didn’t write by himself on the upcoming project
“I haven’t made a record in about 25 years, so I decided to make a record,” he told the venue during his performance at the second annual ASCAP Experience in the Round. He then said that songwriting is “the great joy of my life.”
Listen to “True Believer” below.