Interview: Country singer-songwriter Chris Cagle gets "Back in the Saddle" with new album
A version of this story appears in Wednesday’s Life section of The Oklahoman.
Chris Cagle gets ‘Back in the Saddle’
The country-rock singer-songwriter, who now makes his home on a horse ranch in Marietta, released this week his first album of new material in more than four years. He will mark the occasion in his adopted home state Thursday with CD signings at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill in Bricktown and Walmart Supercenter in Del City.
Back in 2008, Chris Cagle was done with the music business.
After enduring label shakeups, tabloid scrutiny and other unpleasantries, the country-rock singer-songwriter walked away from an eight-year recording career that had produced several hits, including his debut single “My Love Goes On and On,” “I Breathe In, I Breathe Out,” “What a Beautiful Day” and “Chicks Dig It.”
He bought land in Marietta, settled in Oklahoma and took a hands-on role in building his Big Horse Ranch from the red dirt up. At an Ardmore charity event, he fell hard for his future wife, Kay, married her in December 2010, and became a stepfather to her daughter, Chloe, now 8. The couple soon welcomed two more daughters, Stella, 2, and Piper, 1.
So Cagle’s life was already plenty full when the music business came calling again.
“We raise cutting horses, and I’ve spent the last couple years building the ranch. And then Bigger Picture (Music Group) called and we got to do the record with them. Now we’re out on the road doing it all over again, so it’s kind of cool,” Cagle said last week from his tour bus where he was cheering on the Oklahoma City Thunder en route to a show in Cadott, Wis.
“The couple years I was off, I still worked about 30 to 50 shows a year, but since September when we released our first single, man, it’s been nuts.”
The self-proclaimed “redneck rock ‘n’ roller” released Tuesday “Back in the Saddle,” his aptly named first album of new material in more than four years. Cagle, 43, will celebrate the new album in his adopted home state Thursday with CD signings at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill in Bricktown and Walmart Supercenter in Del City.
He likens “Back in the Saddle” to a musical journal chronicling the past few years of his life. He worked with producer Keith Stegall, whose credits include albums for Alan Jackson, George Jones and Zac Brown Band. Cagle praised Stegall as a “true genius” who boosted his confidence and encouraged him to remain true to his signature country-rock sound.
“My whole deal was I was gonna do it my way or I wasn’t gonna do it. And Bigger Picture was like, ‘We’ll do it how you wanna do it,’” he said.
“This is a record I can live and die with. If it’s successful and it sells a bunch, cool, and if doesn’t, that’s OK too because I gave everything I had. … It’s just like being at home on that ranch, man: when I’m out there and I’m working and I’m welding or I’m cutting hay or whatever I’m doing, this record, I put the same kind of effort into. I’m just very proud of it.”
His label relationships haven’t always gone so smoothly. The Texas-bred singer-songwriter moved to Nashville, Tenn., on Aug. 3, 1994 — “it was a Wednesday, it was a gloomy, rainy day, and six years and four days later, I heard my first song on the radio,” he recalled — and waited tables and tended bar for five years until Oklahoma native Scott Hendricks signed him to Virgin Records. He released his debut “Play It Loud” in 2000. About six months later, EMI shuttered Virgin’s Nashville division and shifted him to sister label Capitol, where he released three more albums but never felt he had adequate backing.
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