Keith Anderson's patience is finally paying off.
Anderson admits he was frustrated last year when, just after finishing his second album for Arista Records, he was told he was going to have to switch labels. While still within the Sony BMG family, the transfer meant it would be another year before his album could be released -- an excruciatingly long delay for any artist, but particularly wrenching for Anderson, whose previous album had sold half a million copies and helped build a sizable fan base he wanted to maintain.
But the wait was worth it. "I Still Miss You," the first single from his new album, C'mon!, is his highest-charting song to date -- and it's still climbing. Moreover, the anticipation fueled by a three-year wait for new Keith Anderson music has whipped up great expectations for C'mon! (His earlier album, Three Chord Country and American Rock & Roll was released in May 2005.)
Here was the problem: At Arista, Anderson found himself competing for attention with fellow male vocalists Alan Jackson and Brad Paisley, as well as with superstars Brooks & Dunn and Carrie Underwood.
That being the situation, Joe Galante, head of Sony BMG Records, Arista's corporate parent, decided Anderson stood a better chance of gaining the spotlight if he moved over to Columbia, another Sony BMG label. Its roster included Gretchen Wilson, Miranda Lambert and Montgomery Gentry -- but no other prominent male artist.
"It freaked me out to switch," Anderson recalls, "because I'd had so much success on Arista. There are such good friends over there and a great promotional staff. My first record had gone gold, and I'd had three big [single] hits." Nonetheless, he bowed to Galante's strategy and proved himself to Columbia by going on a six-month tour of radio stations to ballyhoo the new album and single.
At the same time, Anderson continued to work the road to keep fan interest up. "Oh, gosh, it was just tour, tour, tour," he says. "We were constantly playing dates. We started playing all the new music, too. So fans were getting a taste of it even before the album came out."
Among the songs getting the best responses, Anderson reports, were "Sunday Morning in America," "Somebody Needs a Hug" (a strong candidate for second single), "C'mon!" and "Break My Heart."
"We don't play many of the ballads," Anderson says, "because the show is such a live rockin' show."
Like its predecessor, C'mon! showcases Anderson's writing. He had a hand in writing every one of the 11 songs except for the catchy Foster & Lloyd rhapsody, "Crazy Over You." (Foster & Lloyd sang along with Anderson on this cut.) His co-writers were Jeffrey Steele (who also produced the album), Rivers Rutherford, Bob DiPiero, David Lee Murphy, Chuck Cannon, Tim Nichols, Jason Sellers, Vicky McGehee, Chris Wallin, Rodney Clawson, John Rich and Bobby Pinson.
Although it had already been a No. 1 single for Big & Rich, Anderson decided to include "Lost in This Moment" in his album. He says the song has been around for a long time. "[Co-writer] John Rich and I pitched it to a lot of other artists since neither one of us had a record deal at the time [we wrote it]," he explains. "And then -- seven years later -- we both recorded it, not knowing that the other one had. ... Once it became a hit, we thought, gosh, we've already spent time and money on my recording. Let's put it on the record and give everybody another taste of it."
Besides being a radio hit, "Lost in This Moment" has also become one the top wedding songs of the day. "It's huge -- huge -- the amount of feedback we get on that song," Anderson says.
Proud though he is of Three Chord Country and American Rock & Roll, Anderson agrees that C'mon! is a more high-octane album. "I think the rockin' tunes are probably more rockin' and the ballads probably more meaty and deep," he notes.
And it doesn't have to butt heads with Brad Paisley and Alan Jackson.