Steel Magnolia's Joshua Scott Jones and Meghan Linsey are back in the studio working on new music following a challenging 2011. However, they're taking a break this weekend to play a free acoustic show at the ACM Experience on Saturday (March 31) at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
The "Keep On Lovin' You" singers are nominated as a vocal duo for the third straight year at the ACM Awards, which will air live from Las Vegas on Sunday night on CBS.
Asked about their newest nod, Jones says, "We're just really grateful that that's happened. I think every awards show is a milestone marker for us to have a chance and look back at what we've done in the past year. We've been through a lot this year. We're making a record right now, and we're really looking forward to the future and showing a new side of us, too."
Jones says they're sifting through a stack of material with a mix of original songs and outside material for the new album.
"We are in the beginning stages, but I think this record is going to move quickly because of the way it's being recorded. It's going to be simplified. We're trying to make the best record we can, and we're anxious to get back out there on the road," he says.
The duo originally met at a karaoke night and ultimately won CMT's Can You Duet in 2009. Their debut single, "Keep On Lovin' You," climbed to No. 4 on Billboard's country airplay chart, and they released an EP in early 2012. They also reached the Top 25 with "Just by Being You (Halo and Wings)" and "Last Night Again."
However, Jones entered a rehabilitation center for substance abuse in September 2011. That forced Linsey to partner with James Otto to honor the duo's touring commitments with Reba McEntire. By January, the duo had exited Big Machine Records.
Jones believes that those up-and-down experiences will be reflected in the duo's new music.
"I think it's going to be heartfelt. I think a lot of that will come through on the record," he says. "We want people to know another side of us and share that with the fans. At the end of the day, that's what matters and that's what feels great about being an artist and a singer -- having that support system with your fan base and them accepting that. It's fun, too, making a record. It's been a while since we had a record out, and it's time, I think. And it's coming together nicely."
For fans wondering about Jones' health these days, he says with a laugh, "I just got out of a workout and I'm drinking a smoothie! So I'm doing great. Like I said, we can't wait to get back on the road and reconnect. Life is really good, and I thank God for it every day."
Fans may remember that Jones and Linsey announced their engagement in 2011. However, Jones deflected questions about a specific wedding date, turning the conversation back to their career.
"We've had a long, beautiful relationship together, and that's going to continue on. We're really excited about the music," he says.
Following their departure from Big Machine Records, Jones says there are "a lot of different options" for getting the record in stores. In the meantime, the duo might preview the new material on their website during the recording process.
"Being a vocal duo, that's what we're trying to take pride in on this record and more of the songwriting element," he says. "But you're going to have your full-production songs on there, also. I think it's going to be more based around stories and songs, just as country music is. I can't wait for you to hear it. We're really pumped."