The day before Thomas Rhett’s Life Changes album was released, he tweeted, “These 14 songs represent who I am today, I hope you can find yourself in each of them.”
And when I sat down with him before the final show of his release-day adventure on Friday (Sept. 8), we talked about finding yourself in songs. His hope is that his fans will be able to relate to all the songs, from the nostalgic ballad “Sixteen” and the Alabama-esque “Drink a Little Beer,” to the heartland rocker “Renegades” and the hopelessly romantic and retro “Sweetheart.”
“All of us artists are a little ADD in a strange way,” Rhett told me. “We all like to try new things and push that boundary. And when you do push that boundary and the stars align and it just clicks with fans, it’s a really special feeling. And I think that’s what we have with this record.”
As confident as Rhett was about releasing what is essentially a kind of mix tape, he was never 100 percent positive that all of this music would work.
“I think that’s the biggest fear of putting this record out. You don’t know what’s gonna work, you don’t know what’s not gonna work,” he said. But what he did know was that getting to know his fans up close and personal made him almost certain that if he was digging the songs, so would they.
“Getting to see my fans face to face, meeting them, and observing them when we play all kinds of pre-roll music made me feel like we’re all on the same level. We grew up at the same time, and we listen to a ton of different kinds of music. So if I can make a record that would make me want to listen to it, then hopefully you can listen to it at whatever stage of life you’re in.
“I’ve lived through all these experiences, and been influenced by so many different things, that I hope my fans have come along with me on this journey. Even if they didn’t know about certain eras of music, maybe this music makes them want to dive in back into that.”
And it sounds like Rhett was almost adamant that he didn’t want to keep making the same record over and over.
“Watching my fave artists — like Bruno Mars — from record one until now, it’s worlds apart,” he said.
“But I bought into him as an artist. Just like I bought into Luke Bryan as an artist. And I bought into George Strait as an artist. I think that when you believe in the person, you just kind of go with him. If they want to try something different, they try something different. It may not be your favorite thing in the world, but you’re still like, ’I like that person.'”