Clint Black says it doesn’t feel like it’s been a decade since he released his last studio album, but the calendar doesn’t lie — and neither do his fans.
“They’ve been reminding me,” he says of his devoted following. On Friday (Sept. 25), their long wait was rewarded with the release of On Purpose. “I’m really thrilled with the way it turned out,” he tells Billboard. “I can’t wait for them to hear the whole thing.”
One of the themes from the disc is about slowing down and maintaining one’s priorities — though the singer confesses that he doesn’t always practice what he preaches. “I’m talking about it; that doesn’t mean I’m necessarily doing it,” he says with a laugh. Black maintains that his career pace (and his life pace) is a lot different from when he initially hit the charts in the spring of 1989 with “Better Man.”
“We’re so busy and have so many ways to communicate so quickly now. We’re always trying to move something or schedule something or reading something…or checking apps. It’s a crazy and distracting life. In some ways, it’s pros, but there’s also some cons. It’s a new world to try to balance.”
One such song from the disc is “Time for That.” “That one is really about how busy we are. From the time the alarm clock rings, we’re on the move. There are very few days in the week that the alarm clock rings and you can decide if you want to hit snooze. Most of the time, that answer is no. I’m that guy in the song who is trying to tell himself to kick back some.”
Guesting on the album is his wife, Lisa Hartman Black. The two — who have enjoyed success before with “When I Said I Do” and “Easy for Me to Say” — team up for the soulful “You Still Get to Me.” Besides the fact that they have been married for well over twenty years, what is it about her that appeals to Black on a musical level? “Her voice does something to me because I love her. I hear the person behind the voice, as well as the voice. I try to get her to sing with me around the house. That does it for me. I know who she is, and if you hear a singer you don’t know or don’t particularly care for, it may be something you have to come by. But, for me, it’s an instinct. As soon as she starts to sing, it just makes me feel good.”
Another partnership that brings Black pleasure is writing with Steve Wariner. The two, who enjoyed a top 10 hit together with “Been There” in 2000, collaborated on “Right on Time” as well as “Only One Way to Live.” In discussing their friendship, Black couldn’t help but playfully shoot a hole in Wariner’s good-guy reputation. “First of all, Steve Wariner is a jerk. But I try to let that go. Everybody knows it,” he says with his tongue planted firmly in-cheek. “No, seriously, he’s a great guy, and so talented. He constantly comes in with ideas. He has a place in his heart that is so kind, and it’s hard for him to have a mean thought. He brings all of that into the room. I know sparks are going to fly, and ideas are going to percolate when we get together. Something good is going to happen. It always does.”
Good things have been happening to Black since the release of his 1989 debut album Killin’ Time. Is it hard for the singer to believe that the album has been a part of fans’ lives for over 25 years? Yes — and no, he says.
“We started looking at the distance on that a couple of years ago. Time, in some senses, did fly by. But there are so many things that have happened since Killin’ Time came out that it does feel like we’ve done about 25 years worth of living.”