Chase Bryant claims he’s a better ballad writer, but he has a hit on his hands with his third consecutive uptempo love song. “Room to Breathe” follows “Take it on Back” and “Little Bit of You” as the rising country star’s newest radio release. Co-written with Derek George and Ashley Gorley, the track has what Bryant calls a “Maroon Five and Michael Jackson meets early Bryan White sound.” Its title was Gorley’s idea, taking the common cliché of needing room to breathe as reason for a breakup and flipping it to be romantic: “Bring it close, don’t leave any space,” Bryant sings in the first verse of the sensual tune.
“It wasn’t a hard song to write,” the singer tells Rolling Stone Country, “because this is where I am: I’m a single guy, I’ve been through these things, I know how this works. . . Well, at least I think I do.”
A guitar shredder from an early age (who can play the instrument upside down), the Texas native played the majority of the guitar parts on “Room to Breathe” and also co-produced it. “Beside just putting my name on something, I want people to realize I put everything into this record,” he reasons. “I play about 95 percent of the guitars on my records, because I’ve gotta recreate that live. I’d rather play something I know than play something somebody else played, because it wouldn’t mean as much to me.”
As for his producing style, Bryant learned by osmosis. He grew up with family in the business (his uncles were in legendary country group Ricochet, and his grandfather played with Roy Orbison and Waylon Jennings), so he was able to log a lot of studio time as a teenager, watching producers create future hits. He also studied classic albums by the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Steve Wariner, Tom Petty and Vince Gill for inspiration. Still, he chalks his production practices up to trial-and-error.
“As a producer, I think it all comes down to stupidity,” Bryant says with a shrug. “You go into the studio and say, ‘Man, that’s the greatest record I’ve ever made.’ But then you may put it out and someone doesn’t take it as well. So you make a record hoping for luck. . . I’m not the fastest guitar player, I’m not the guy with the best vocal licks of all time, I’m just a guy who sings honest songs, and that’s what I want to create.”
Bryant is still putting the finishing touches on a full album, with its title and release date forthcoming. He says 90 percent of what he writes are ballads, so expect to finally hear his slower side when the LP comes out.