Tim McGraw gathered family, friends and some of country music’s biggest power players together Sunday night (Sept. 14) in Franklin, Tennessee, to preview his brand new album, Sundown Heaven Town.
And, trust me, an evening spent with Tim McGraw is time well spent.
The packed room at Gray’s on Main, a restaurant and bar in the historic small town, boasted not only the toast of Music Row and country radio but also a buffet of lamb chops, shrimp and grits and signature cocktails named in honor of the album.
And, yes, McGraw’s wife Faith Hill was there to cheer him on.
After mingling with guests, McGraw took the stage to thank everyone for their attendance and support before launching into an intimate performance of “Shotgun Rider” (his new single), “Keep on Truckin'” (also from the new album) and his big smash “Felt Good on My Lips” (performed with the song’s co-writers, the Warren Brothers).
For McGraw, the night was not only a chance to celebrate the album’s release but also a chance to call attention to Rhett Akins, Barry Dean, Andrew Dorff and other hit songwriters who contributed to the album.
“We have so many great songwriters here and so many great musicians that after I sing a few, I’m sure nobody would mind if a couple of you songwriters who are a lot better singers than I am will get up and do a few songs,” McGraw said. “That would be fantastic for me to hear and for everybody else to hear.”
And they did. I was particularly moved by Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd’s performance of their tune “Last Turn Home,” a powerful one they cowrote with Eric Arjes, that sits perfectly among the 18 tracks on Sundown Heaven Town.
Yep, 18 songs. And the reason for recording and releasing 18 songs?
“I couldn’t get rid of any of them,” he said. “I just loved them all so much. There’s so much talent on here. You guys and gals who write these songs, we live in a town that’s just full of great poets.”
So what can we expect musically and lyrically from these exciting new songs and entire project? McGraw says a little bit of everything.
“Some of it’s happy, some of it’s fun, some of it’s introspective a little bit, some of it’s about love,” he said. “And I think the theme of it more than anything else is just about going in and making great records, having a lot of fun and then putting art out there for everybody to see and everybody to enjoy and get their own sort of philosophy out of what they hear.”
Sundown Heaven Town will be released Tuesday.