For his next album, Scotty McCreery is ready to take his signature deep-barrel baritone down a more classically country road — because the "Feelin' It" singer is hoping to feel a few less pop hooks and few more banjo strums in his evolving sound.
"We just had the meeting with the label and the album is a go," McCreery tells Rolling Stone Country. "And I'm going to make a country music record. That's what I had to try to convey to the label and they were all for it. The stuff I grew up with was that kind of music — I want to have some depth and portray a different side."
Since he burst into public consciousness with his rendition of Josh Turner's "Your Man" delivered in notes so low it was as chuckle-inducing as it was impressive for a teenage kid from North Carolina, McCreery has cut a steady string of singles that mix his love of traditional Nashville with a twangy teen-appropriate gloss common to American Idol alums. But he's hidden little hints on past records, like "Carolina Moon" from 2013's See You Tonight, that give an indication to where he hopes to go sonically. "I have songs like that one where I have Alison Krauss doing background vocals," he says, "and those are my favorite songs I've ever done. So I'll play the game a little, but I'm going to try to stay true to what I love." Many of McCreery's American Idol choices reflected these roots: George Strait, Alan Jackson and Travis Tritt, among them.
McCreery is heading into studio this month in Nashville, and his next single will be from the forthcoming record, expected in the third or fourth quarter of 2015. Another difference this go-round? McCreery is planning on co-writing many of the tracks himself. "I love songwriting, it's a way to explore what's going on upstairs," he says, a practice he's honed just by surrounding himself with Nashville's top names in the craft, like Ashley Gorley, Ross Copperman and busbee. "These writers are the world's best, and I just try to pick up little things they do. Most of the time, it starts with a guitar."
After a mixed reception to See You Tonight, which failed to reach the platinum numbers of his 2011 debut, Clear as Day, McCreery's ready to focus more on the music and less on the constant demands of pleasing radio. "We're going to try and make an album — we're not looking for a quick single," he says in that unmistakable tone. "Honestly, we're starting at ground zero."