After winning the CMA Awards’ song of the year honors for his chart-topping hit “Buy Dirt,” and following that with the Country Airplay No. 1 hit “What My World Spins Around,” Jordan Davis admits reality has exceeded his expectations.
“I feel like I’m playing with house money. I moved to town to be a songwriter and all I wanted to do is write songs,” says Davis, whose MCA Nashville album Bluebird Days comes out Friday (Feb. 17). “I think about those early goals, and I think about where I’m at now, and I’m just like, ‘God is crazy. He’s good. I’m super, super blessed.’”
Bluebird Days is an impressive 17-track set that includes 15 songs co-written by Davis that run the gamut from the spirited opening track, “Damn Good Time,” to the poignant homage to his grandfather, “Fishing Spot,” to the title track, a haunting examination of his family’s journey from happy times to the ache of his parents’ divorce.
Bluebird Days is the Shreveport, Louisiana native’s second full length album, following 2018’s Home State, which spawned the Country Airplay No. 1s “Singles You Up,” “Slow Dance in a Parking Lot” and “Take it From Me.” Davis also released two EPs prior to Bluebird Days, including a 2020 self-titled set and a May 2021 release that included “Buy Dirt.” “Barring the two Covid years, I definitely think that we would have made a [full] record around the first EP,” he tells Billboard. “Not touring and being at home more took a little while to get used to, so my writing schedule got thrown off — not to mention shifted in what I was writing about.”
The deeper, more personal themes he tackles on Bluebird Days were a result of the downtime during the pandemic combined with the success of “Buy Dirt,” a multi-platinum duet with Luke Bryan that celebrated the things that truly matter in life and is included on Bluebird Days. “When you are touring, it’s hard not to stay in the touring mindset as you are writing a song,” he says. “You start writing a song for a spot in the set and not necessarily just writing a song. With the space and with the time off, it allowed me to just truly sit down and write an honest real song. Without that time off, I don’t think we would have written a lot of these songs that are on this album.”
In listening to Bluebird Days, Davis thinks people will recognize “that we’re all pretty human.” Much of the album is written with frequent collaborators such as his producer Paul DiGiovanni, Josh Jenkins, Davis’ brother Jacob and Matt Jenkins (the latter three penned “Buy Dirt” with Davis).
“With us saying that we wanted to be honest with this album, there was no one foot in and kind of easing into this,” he explains. “It’s like, ‘All right man, if we’re going to be honest, you’ve just got to be honest,’ whether it’d be talking about my temper on ‘Short Fuse’ or talking about the way I view money on ‘Money Isn’t Real,’ how fast my kids are growing and the guilt I feel being gone half the year… that’s all real stuff, and I know I’m not the only person in the world that’s going through that.”
In light of the recent accolades and success at radio, Davis admits he was a little apprehensive about his second full length effort, including picking “What My World Spins Around” as the follow-up to “Buy Dirt.” “The space between ‘Buy Dirt’ and ‘What My World Spins Around’ going to radio was the most nerveracking — and when ‘What My World Spins Around’ had the impact the way it did and ended up being a big song in its own right, I think that took a lot of the pressure off,” he says. “I was able to see I don’t have to redo ‘Buy Dirt’ again — I just have to be honest and up front and real in the writing.”
To follow up “What My World Spins Around,” Davis says they almost went with another single before deciding to release “Next Thing You Know,” which Davis wrote with Greylan James, Chase McGill and Josh Osborne. “After a week of playing it live, I walked off stage one night and told my manager that I’m an idiot if I don’t give this song a chance at radio,” Davis says. “I don’t know if I’ve had a song that’s impacted the way this song has, even ‘Buy Dirt.’ It’s truly pretty special to watch. And it doesn’t have a chorus, which is kind of weird. It’s a totally linear story of life, but it doesn’t matter if you’re 70, 50, 40 or 20 — you have a part in this song, and I truly feel like that’s why so many people are gravitating to it.”
Even the songs he didn’t write speak for him, including “Money Isn’t Real,” penned by Jake Mitchell, Jameson Rodgers, Josh Thompson, Sarah Turner. “I was trying to write this song called ‘When the Money Runs Out,’ about, ‘Who you are going to be, what are people going to say about you, when the money runs out?’ And I couldn’t get it right,” Davis says. “Jameson sent over ‘Money Isn’t Real,’ and I remember being like, ‘Holy smokes! I’ve been trying to write this song for three years and you just sent me this song I’ve been trying to write.’”
Danielle Bradbery joins Davis on “Midnight Crisis.” “The first time I heard her sing, I was captivated, and she’s just the sweetest person in the world,” he says. “I truly think she’s on the verge of being one of the most powerful females in country music. I knew Danielle would crush it, and she was the only one we sent it to.”
Growing up in Louisiana, Davis was heavily influenced by the local sounds and acts coming through town. “The special thing about Shreveport was it truly was a melting pot,” he says. “There were places where you could go listen to traditional country. There were places that were doing writer’s rounds and clubs that would have rock bands. At 10-years-old, I was going to [defunct renowned Louisiana club] Western Sky because my Uncle Stan [Paul Davis] was playing there with his band. Texas country [acts] Robert Earl Keen and Pat Green would come play the casinos, and we’d go see them, and then jazz bands out of New Orleans would come up and me and my buddies would go see them. It was such a diverse musical city and I just pulled pieces from all that. I was lucky to grow up there.”
Initially, Davis didn’t see himself on stage. Growing up, his brother Jacob was always the performer of the two siblings, following in the steps of their uncle, a local legend. “He was playing all over Louisiana and I was just carrying his equipment in and out of venues,” Davis recalls. “So when I moved to town, he was working on getting a record deal and I was trying to get a publishing deal.”
But Davis got discouraged when he saw his contemporaries landing publishing contracts that eluded him. Then a friend told him that songwriters who were also artists were much more attractive to publishing companies, and those were the writers who were getting signed. “I was like, ‘All right, well, I want to be an artist too,’” he says. “I didn’t want to bartend anymore. I wanted to just write songs.”
These days, he’s grateful to be doing writing and singing and spending time on the road playing his songs. He’s out with Thomas Rhett through February before heading to Europe to play the C2C festivals in March in London, Dublin and Glasgow. In the summer, Davis will tour with Dierks Bentley, and he’s planning a potential headlining tour for the fall.