Country icons Alabama have announced their first album of original material in 14 years, Southern Drawl. Set for a September 18th release, the record finds the band’s core three members — singer Randy Owen, guitarist Jeff Cook and bassist Teddy Gentry — coming out of semi-retirement and chasing down a recharged, revised sound.
Known for their dozens of hits at country radio, including “Mountain Music,” “Song of the South” and “Dixieland Delight” the band is credited with helping usher in a new era of mainstream country music that began in the Eighties and led to the blending of country, rock and pop — a blend that still forms the bedrock of contemporary country today. Even so, musical tastes have changed since the three cousins stepped away from touring in 2004, and Alabama’s members plan to adapt their sound to appeal to a new generation of listeners, many of whom may not be familiar with Alabama at all.
“Country music, when we took our ‘vacation,’ is not the same country it is today,” says Cook. “For people who knew the original Alabama, [Southern Drawl] is going to be a little different to their ears.”
Maybe so, but the project’s lead single — a pulsating, romantic ballad called “Wasn’t Through Loving You” — could fit on any classic Alabama album. Other new songs include the good-timing “Hillbilly Wins the Lotto Money,” the blue-collar anthem “American Farmer, the heart-warming “I Wanna Be There” and “Come Find Me,” which features guest vocals from bluegrass songbird Alison Krauss.
“I gave more of my heart and soul to this one than anything I’ve been a part of in my life,” says Owen. “I approached this album as if it could be my best, my first or my last. We were so glad to be back in the studio, we didn’t take a moment of it for granted.”
“We loved being in the studio again,” Gentry adds. “You have to know when you walk away that you did the best you could. We look forward to sharing the new music with our fans. . . when the people can feel it, you know you’ve done your job.”
The band plans to continue touring lightly through the fall, with concert dates scheduled at fairs and casinos across the country. They’ll also take part in this year’s Charlie Daniels Volunteer Jam on August 12th in Nashville, play a two-night stand at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas in December and perform for three nights at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center next May.