Heartland releases their second studio album, “I Loved Her First: The Heart of Heartland,” featuring 10 original tracks with Nashville’s most renowned hit makers (David Lee Murphy, Don Goodman, Anthony Smith, and D. Vincent Williams) who all took part in this project. The musical production is flawless and the music takes you back to classic country music. Produced by hit songwriter Walt Aldridge and James Stroud, the brand new Nashville recordings feature performances by core band members Jason Albert, Charles Crawford and Keith West, with special guest appearances by Tracy Lawrence and Samantha Crawford. The bells and whistles are the lyrics, music and vocal performances. The re-recording of the track “I Loved Her First” features Tracy Lawrence. We were so taken by this body of work that we requested a sit down with Heartland who talked to us about working with some of the greatest hit makers, the recording process and theh inspiration behind the album. Keep this group on your radar and celebrate a really great album that personifies the old and the new coming together to create country music magic.
Music Update Central: What was it like working with some of Nashville’s most renowned hit makers to record this project? How has the recording process changed since your original recording project 10 or so years ago?
Heartland: We have been so lucky; our blessings do not go unnoticed. When we look around a room and think about all of the hits that these folks created, or have been involved with, the number of hits combined, would be in the hundreds. We still feel like kids when we get the chance to be around that kind of talent; we all take pictures...find ourselves asking goofy questions--even though we’ve been through this process several times.
The recording process, this time around, probably changed more for us than it has for most. We recorded the majority of our first album in a small studio that was basically an office that Walt, who wrote "I Loved Her First," had converted into a small studio. It was so small, we recorded the drums in a different location. The budget was basically nothing.
We have an appreciation for what Walt was able to do for us on the first album, with such limited resources, and you look at the larger studios with brighter eyes. We went from a pint-sized, home studio, to playing in some of the greatest studios in Nashville.
Music Update Central: Why do you feel like Tracy Lawrence was the “perfect” vocal fit to recreate the title track?
Heartland: We played several shows with Tracy and always felt like we had a great relationship with him; that relationship was as important to us as his voice. …And, of course, he has one of the most recognizable, voices in country music. Tracy has a signature style that stands out in any song; and he nailed the re-recording.
Music Update Central: Give us a brief description/synopsis of what current fans and new listeners can expect to hear on the new project? (Describe storylines, production and instrumentation).
Heartland: The tracks on this project are a little different from what you would hear on the radio today. We love to have a good time and we love songs that celebrate that as well; but, we stuck more to the story songs on this album. We have songs about drug addiction, lost loves and patriotic songs. James Stroud produced some of the tracks and Walt Aldridge produced several on the album as well. We are all the same players, but the sound is so much bigger than what we had on the first album.
Sidebar: You can really hear what Walt can do with the right equipment!
Music Update Central: What’s the inspiration behind recording the album and what made you decide to release this album after all this time?
Heartland: We noticed a trend with "I loved Her First." Every so often something would happen to cause a resurgence for the title track (such as the man who used sign language for his daughter on a YOUTUBE video that actually caused the song to chart again). Since it seemed to be such a part of people's lives, we thought revisiting the anniversary might afford us the opportunity to delivery our music to people in a different way. This project wasn’t about the money or making money; everyone involved, from the producers to Herb Graham, our manager, knew that going in. Nobody cared; we just wanted to try to catch that lightning in a bottle for everyone one more time.
Music Update Central: How did Heartland come together initially? What was the experience like to circle back around to work together so many years later?
Heartland: It’s been quite a while; I am sure you could ask anyone of us, and we would all have a different story. Most of the guys met in high school. We are all in our upper 40's now; so, that gives you insight as to how long this has lasted. We caught some grief when our first release became so successful; people held it against us because they thought we had not paid our dues. Well, the band had been together recording and putting out albums for more than 10 years before the release of the "I Loved Her First” single. We were all playing in the same circle in North Alabama and we had plenty of studio and LIVE stage experience.
It's a little different now, everyone is older...we all have different responsibilities than we had back then. So, we don't get to get together as much. When we do, we pick up right where we left off.
Music Update Central: Are there plans for more new music in the future?
Heartland: We’re in conversations with our manager about perhaps recording and releasing another song at the first of next year—in 2020, which is exciting. But in the now, we want to focus on this release.
Thanks so much for having us Music Update Central—it’s been pleasure and an honor! — Heartland
Heartland Website: http://heartlandband.com