Kane Brown is a "Different Man" today than he was when he released his first album in 2016. In the early days of his career, Brown struggled with confidence before breakthrough hits, including "What Ifs" and "Heaven." But now – with the release of his third album "Different Man" – Brown has found his footing.
"When I'm on stage, I feel like I put on a show now," Brown told Today's Country Radio with Kelleigh Bannen on Apple Music Country. "When I used to, I would just get up there and say, 'Here's a couple songs that I wrote.' And then even with the music, I know what I want to say now, I know how I want it to sound. And of course, it's going to keep progressing, but I just feel like just maturity-wise… I don't care what everybody thinks now. I used to always be like, 'I hope he likes me' or 'I hope she likes me,' and now it's just like, 'Whatever.'"
He admits he's not as blasé about it as he sounds – especially on social media. But he's getting better.
"One of the things that I do that I need to stop, I've actually done really well; I've been applauding myself this last couple months … Like social media," he said. "So [if I] have thousands of good comments, I'll see one bad comment, and I'll reply to that person. That's where I need to get out of that headspace, and I've done very good lately."
Brown, who recently had No. 1 hits with "One Mississippi" and "Like I Love Country Music," has had such a boost of confidence that he now considers himself great at A&R, which means he believes he's fantastic at choosing hit songs and matching them with the right singers. When he heard the album's title track, "Different Man," he said he listened to it over and over in an effort to figure out the perfect artist with whom to collaborate on the song.
"Blake Shelton" was the first person that popped into my head," he said. "So I sent it to him, and then within 30 minutes, he texted me back and said he's on it. So that was just a crossing my fingers, hoping he could find time to record it.
His new pop song "Grand" came out of a much darker place. Brown said he struggled with depression and his wife fought anxiety during the pandemic. Not being able to play shows, release music, or be creative took a significant toll on him. They weren't having conversations or leaving the house, and he couldn't think of anything to write about.
"(I was) just wondering if any of this is ever going to stop," Brown said. "I'm a worrier. So, I finally was just like, 'I've got a beautiful family.' I go outside and look [at] my pool. I never had a pool growing up as a kid, and I was just like, 'I'm so grateful. Life's grand.'"
Brown's song "Pop's Last Name" also points back to his family. The singer called his grandfather "pop." He was Brown's only father figure because his biological father has been in prison since Brown was a child. Pop taught Brown baseball and took him on drives. He died last year, and "Pop's Last Name" memorializes Brown's beloved grandfather.
"I talk about it in the song, going through the battlefield, there was this statue because the Civil War was fought in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, in the battlefield," Brown said. "And there was these statues, and he would always act like the statue was talking to me when I was young. I remembered it… But when I was going through child abuse and stuff with my stepdad and all that stuff, he was there to... I wasn't going to get to go to baseball practice one day; he came and took me out of the house and was like, 'He's coming with me.' [He] was just a big father figure. And so I had to write a song about him."
Brown's "Different Man" is available now.