The title to Lee Brice's sophomore album seems increasingly inaccurate.
The country singer-songwriter's 2012 release, “Hard 2 Love,” has scored two straight platinum-certified No. 1 hits, and the third single, the heartrending “I Drive Your Truck,” is speeding along as the fastest-rising single of his career.
The South Carolina native also is planning his April wedding, working on his third album and warming up crowds on Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley's co-headlining “Locked & Reloaded Tour.” The tour rolls into Chesapeake Energy Arena Friday night.
“I think people are going home, like, rocked, they're like ‘Yeah!' Miranda really brings the house down at the end of the night,” Brice said of the superstar who makes her home in Tishomingo.
“Miranda and Dierks, first of all, both of them are like two of my favorite live performers, so the shows are just awesome. And then they're just real people too, and that just makes it so cool, to be out with a bunch of real folks.”
For the former college football player, the tour offers an entertaining education.
“If it's a Brad Paisley show or a Miranda Lambert show or Dierks — for a long time I was out on the road doing some shows with him — they've been doing it a long time on those big stages. You kind of get to take in how a real show really goes down, not like an old bar or a club. I really get to see where their experience comes in and take notes, man, and that's kind of what I do. It kind of teaches you to be patient on those big stages and soak the moment in,” Brice said in an interview last week from Nashville, Tenn.
Best known for his ballads like “Hard to Love,” “A Woman Like You” and “Love Like Crazy,” Brice now is riding “I Drive Your Truck” up the country charts. Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary penned the emotional story-song, which Brice belts from the point of a view of a grieving man who finds comfort behind the wheel of the pickup that belonged to his brother, a soldier who died in action.
“I try to write as much as I can, but every now and then I hear a song that just blows me away. And that song just put me on the floor the first time I heard it. And I felt like since it did that to me — and my ears are a little numb 'cause there's so much music around me all the time — that it would really hit most people. And it is. I'm getting so many tweets and Facebooks and emails and messages about stories about how this song is completely impacting people in a big, big way. It's so cool to be a part of that,” Brice said, adding he thinks about his late grandfather when he hears it.
Preparing for next steps
Although “Hard 2 Love” only debuted about 10 months ago, Brice is hard at work on the follow-up. He has a tentative title — “I Don't Dance” — although he doesn't expect to release it until at least a year from now.
“I'm already deep into it ... writing, putting songs together and figuring out an album to make it a full album and then dwindling down songs 'cause I've already got too many,” he said.
“I'm a little more patient in the recording process. ... I've really gone in and even made work tapes for building tracks around and, like then going in and putting a band on it and then going back. I mean, just really taking the time to not just settle with a part that's kind of cool, like really think about it and dig in and have an open mind to change anything and try anything. And it's really making a difference, I think.”
The right woman also makes a difference. In April, Brice plans to marry his fiancee, Sara Reevely, with whom he has a son, Takoda, 4, and take some time off with his family. He included both their voices on “Hard 2 Love,” with his bride-to-be featured on “See About a Girl” and their boy on album closer “One More Day.”
“Takoda, you know, he's my whole life, and I can't wait to get home to him. You know, it's like I used to get on the road and I loved being on the road, I didn't care if I came home, but now I can't wait to get home,” he said. “I'm just looking forward to having that month kind of off. It's exciting. I wish I was married already. I'm ready. ... Once you're ready, you're ready.”
The hit-making balladeer expects his upcoming nuptials and honeymoon to provide ample material for future love songs.
“Oh, don't you worry. They're coming,” he said with a laugh.