Randy Houser hasn't even been a father for a year, but his son already is teaching him valuable lessons, including one he put into practice while making his upcoming album.
“Before I became a father, I kind of put all the pressure on myself to do everything and write everything mostly and really sink every moment into it. And this time, it was really pleasure,” he said in a phone interview from his Nashville, Tenn., home.
On Jan. 22, the singer-songwriter will release his third album, “How Country Feels,” a 15-track record for which he penned seven songs. Houser, who turns 36 on Tuesday, will preview some of the new tunes, including the hit title track, during an acoustic set Thursday at Riverwind Casino, where he will headline Jake's Jingle Jam.
“You know, making a record is also like having a baby, raising a child for a year, too. Definitely more of my time was devoted to my son and my wife, you know, but I mean, that's not to give the wrong impression. I don't want anybody to think the album suffered at all for it. ... It's definitely the best album I've had,” Houser said last week, noting that his boy, West Yantz Houser, just turned 9 months old.
“I didn't write as many of the songs on this one as I did the last one just simply because we have a new baby and ... trying to learn how to be a father and all that, I just didn't have time.”
Perhaps because the Mississippi native got his start in Nashville as a songsmith — he wrote Trace Adkins' 2005 smash “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” with Jamey Johnson and Dallas Davidson — he felt compelled to craft most of the songs on his first two albums: He co-penned eight of the 11 tracks on his 2008 debut “Anything Goes,” including his first top 10 hit, “Boots On,” and wrote or co-wrote all 11 cuts on his 2010 outlaw-inspired follow-up “They Call Me Cadillac.”
“I think if you were to go back and listen to the last album, the ‘Cadillac' album, you know, that was when I was dealing with a darker place in my life. I can tell by listening to it. So yeah, I think the records usually represent what I'm going through at the time, where I'm living and where I'm at emotionally,” he said. “I think this is a much happier album. Now it's got definitely a lot more colorful — the sounds are, the songs are. You know, I'm just a happier man.”
“How Country Feels” also will mark Houser's debut on independent Stoney Creek Records.
“Benny Brown, who owns the label, I depended on him a lot. He's got a really great ear for songs ... so I did kind of lean on him to find the really good material. And the times that I didn't have time to be looking or writing, he would go round things up and play 'em for me and we'd decide on songs. I mean, I found a lot of songs too and I wrote a lot of songs. But it kind of eased the burden a little bit,” Houser said.
Fans have already thrown their support behind the title track, which has cracked the top 15 on the Billboard country songs chart and is on the rise. Penned by Vicky McGehee, Wendell Mobley and Neil Thrasher, the toe-tapping Southern rock ballad has sold more than 250,000 copies for Houser.
“It's been, what, three years since we had ‘Boots On' out, which was a No. 2 (hit). So I'm just really blown away by the song and the reaction from fans and from radio. People are downloading it, and people seem to really love it. And I love it too. We love playing it every night; you know, it's one of those songs that I don't get sick of playing,” he said. “We're very, very lucky to get to do what we get to do and on the scale that we get to do it in. And I'm very, very thankful for it every time.”
As his son gets closer to his first birthday in March, Houser also is thankful for the way West has changed his life and expects the boy will have a more direct influence on his future songwriting.
“I learn something every day. Boy, it's amazing. I mean, the first thing I noticed that I learned is that I didn't know that I could love that strong. You know, it's amazing. I mean, it really is.”
Jake's Jingle Jam
• Featuring: Randy Houser, Greg Bates, Jana Kramer, Thomas Rhett, Jon Pardi, D. Vincent
• When: 8 p.m. Thursday. Doors open at 7 p.m.
• Where: Riverwind Casino, 1544 W State
• Information: 322-6464 or www.riverwind.com.