Toby Keith will release his first album for his own Show Dog Nashville imprint, “White Trash With Money,” on April 11. The set was co-produced by Lari White, marking a break from Keith’s longtime producer James Stroud. First single “Get Drunk and Be Somebody” is No. 8 this week on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
White, a songwriter/recording artist who is currently starring on Broadway in the musical “Ring of Fire,” is the wife of Keith’s longtime songwriting partner, Chuck Cannon.
After hearing her self-produced 2005 release, “Green Eyed Soul,” which Keith calls “such an impressive record,” and some production projects White had done with Billy Dean, Cannon and Keith’s daughter, he decided to try out a few demos with her in her Nashville-area studio, the Holler.
Two days and six songs into it the pair was clicking so well that it became obvious White would continue to produce the entire album with Keith. “She’s got her own little bag of tricks,” Keith says of White’s production style. “I came away completely impressed.”
What she created, White says, was a sound that is “a little more raw, less slick and earthier” than Keith’s previous work. “Obviously Toby didn’t need [to do] anything different,” White says. “He was doing just fine with a string of hit records. But if any artist is going to have the kind of longevity they want, there has to be some evolution.”
For the project, White added an unexpected touch by tracking down noted Argentine string arranger George DelBarrio (Michael Jackson; Earth, Wind & Fire; Jeffrey Osborne). DelBarrio’s work can be heard on the planned second single, “A Little Too Late,” and two other songs.
She also encouraged Keith to stretch out a bit as a singer. “Toby typically comes in and sings the song three times,” she says. But on this project there were songs where White urged Keith to try additional takes with different melodies. “He was really into it. I think he trusted me because I am a singer,” White says.
Keith recently wrapped the first leg of his Big Throwdown II tour, and will hit the road again in August for about 50 more shows.