Brett Young Makes a First Impression With Debut Album

He'll Be Touring With Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Justin Moore and Lee Brice

Brett Young can’t stop smiling these days.

The “Sleep Without You” singer and California native released his 10-song self-titled debut Friday (Feb. 10). On March 1, he will play a bucket list venue for any performing artist — New York City’s Madison Square Garden as part of Luke Bryan’s Kill the Lights Tour.

He joins Justin Moore and Lee Brice’s American Made Tour on March 23, and by the end of 2017, he’ll play the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles and Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Lady Antebellum’s You Look Good World Tour.

All of this comes after just three years of making music in Nashville.

“I get to share the stage with some of the best,” he said during our interview. “And I have so much to learn. I’m still learning a lot about myself as a performer and what I want my live show to look like. So I’m going to have the kind of opportunity to watch these guys who are so good at what they do. I can’t wait. It’s going to be a blast.”

At this point in his career, the best thing that could ever happen to Young would be to have Tim McGraw record one of his songs. “Don’t Take The Girl” was what inspired him to go into country music in the first place. The two are signed to the same label, but they still haven’t met.

“If you had the one person you would love to have record one of your songs, it would be him,” Young said. “Based on his track record with the songs he put out in his career and how many hits he’s had, it would be an absolute honor to hear him record one of my songs.” On your first album, it seems like you have a lot to say about love. What makes it your favorite subject to write about?

Young: You only get one chance to make a first impression, and I wanted people to really get to know me with this record. So I wanted to talk about real life and personal experiences that made that I feel people would be able to relate to. That’s why it’s kind of an emotional roller coaster as you go through the record. It’s a lot of love, loss and heartbreak, because I feel like that’s the best way to get to know somebody.

How does it help you understand the emotion more?

It’s always helpful to put things down on paper. That’s why I started writing. When I was young, I would just write poems into textbooks in class. Everybody needs that outlet. For me, I think it’s less about learning about myself and more about just needing to get things out sometimes. I’ve always been pretty in touch with what I’m feeling. But having a place to put those feelings has been really helpful.

I have a feeling fans would want to know if all the songs were about one particular person.

No. They’re about a collection of experiences. Also, some of the songs are ideas that other writers I worked with brought in, and I had to pick from my personal experiences that I could use to lend to a story that they were trying to tell. And so, it’s not one of those records that could be named after one girl. It’s a whole lot of life experience in there.

Tell me more about “In Case You Didn’t Know.”

It was one of those happy accidents. One of the songwriters Trent Tomlinson was telling a story about his mom when he used the phrase, “In Case You Didn’t Know.” And it kind of struck all of us as, “Wow, we say that phrase all the time. What about making it a love song?” It’s kind of a play on how men are really bad at saying, “I love you” and very nonchalant about how they do say it. But the thing that everybody kind of agreed that no matter how nonchalant, women need to hear it.

And show it, too.

I think that’s where guys miss it. They think they’re showing it all the time. But women need verbal confirmation as well. There’s a million ways to show how much you care, and I think every once in a while it’s important to go, “Hey, you know I love you, right? In case you didn’t know, I do love you.” Everybody can easily make that their love story. And it’s been pretty fun to watch people choose that as their wedding song.

Lauren Tingle is a Tennessean and storyteller who eats music for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When she’s not writing or rocking out, she enjoys yoga and getting lost in the great outdoors.