Josh Turner is back in the studio -- and sticking to traditional country.
Turner might be best described as "traditional" in every sense of the word. Heck, he's even been called "old-fashioned." And he's fine with that.
And with more than 5 million albums sold and four chart-topping hits to his name, it seems like everyone else is just fine with that, too.
The golden-voiced bass singer hasn't released a new studio album since 2012's Punching Bag, which produced the hit single "Time Is Love." The same year, he also issued Live Across America. Both albums were impressive, but they quietly disappeared into a sea of new artists and sounds as the tone of country radio began to experience a shift away from a traditional sound and more toward contemporary rock, pop and even hip-hop.
What's a guy like Turner to do? What do these neo-traditional guys need to do at a time like this?
That's easy. Stick to your guns and keep doing what you believe in.
And that's exactly what Turner plans to do with this next album. He's back in the studio, about nine songs into his new project. The process been a thrill for him, but it hasn't been without its challenges.
"In all honesty, it's been the hardest record of my career to make," he said during a round of interviews in Nashville this week. "I don't know why. It's been tough for me to write the songs. It's been tough for me to find the songs. I think this whole town has been in a funk, you know? Everybody's writing about the same thing, the same kind of melodies. It's just been very frustrating."
Though Turner may feel slightly frustrated, the good news is he doesn't feel rushed. His label hasn't been pushing him to crank out the album, and he's glad they are taking the time to do it right.
"When it came time for this record, I didn't have a direction," he admitted. "I didn't know what I was supposed to be writing towards. I didn't know what I supposed to be doing or saying."
But now he has a better inkling of where he wants to go musically and says he has a great batch of songs ready. And when you hear them, you'll hear that sound you've grown to love. He has no plans to follow any trends, although he says there was a time when he questioned whether or not there was still a place for him in the current country climate.
"I'll be completely honest, I started asking myself, 'Do people like my kind of music anymore?'" he said. "I had to ask myself that question, you know, or else I wasn't ever going to get the answer. And I came up with the answer, 'Yeah, they like my music, my style of music.' But I went back to my mantra -- which has always been do traditional country music but find a new way to do it.
"I think what the tricky thing for me was, 'OK, how am I gonna find a new way to do this? How am I gonna reinvent the wheel?' ... I don't know if I've totally found the way to do it yet, but I definitely feel like I'm headed in the right direction. I have the recipe now."
Turner has written close to 60 songs for the new album, as opposed to writing 28 for his last project.
"This is gonna be a sweet record -- regardless of what happens once it gets out there -- because I've worked my butt off for this one," he chuckled.