Brantley Gilbert on New Music and Old Loves

Brantley Gilbert said we couldn’t talk about what he called the “disengagement.” That was his polite way of saying I shouldn’t ask him any questions about his recent breakup with Jana Kramer.

So instead, we talked about music — his music — and what this next album of his would be like.

“The love songs are still on there,” he told me when he was in Chicago for a NASCAR pre-race show on Sunday (Sept. 15). “I didn’t change anything. It’s kinda like how tattoos are chapters of your life. And all my records are chapters of my life. They all tell stories, and obviously she’s a big part of the story. ‘I’m Gone’ is kind of a breakup song. But there were some goodbye situations in there and some hell-raisin’ situations. There was a lot to write about.”

So while I didn’t technically ask about Kramer, he brought her up when the talk turned to heartbreaking songs.

“I sing about the things that I don’t have conversations about,” he said. “That’s me giving as much as I can.”

The album will be released in early 2014, and Gilbert says he’s pretty settled on the title Just As I Am. The first single, which will be out in October, is “Bottoms Up.”

Then we talked about his current home back in Georgia. He’d been living with Kramer in Nashville since they’d gotten engaged in January.

“I moved back to Georgia, so I just flew back and forth to make the record. I’ll be in Nashville for a while now. Then I’ve got some time off. I had a wedding scheduled, and my schedule just opened up,” he said with a smile.

Now that he’s back in his hometown of Jefferson, Ga., and he’s single, I wondered if he’d run into any old girlfriends.

“I’ll tell you what. The girls from my hometown are so over me,” he said. “It’s been cool to catch up, but I think I’m done with my exes. To be honest, I went out with flying colors on the majority of them.”

So even though Gilbert made a few vague references to his breakup with Kramer during our conversation, he was a little more straightforward during his concert.

“I recently became a bachelor again,” he said to the crowd of cheering fans, “and I’ve never seen people so happy about a breakup.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.