Four albums and six chart-topping singles into his career, Chris Young is no longer “that guy from the Nashville Star talent show.” He’s grown into a real Nashville star, occupying a reliable niche as the romantically in-tune good guy, crooning smooth come-ons like “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song),” “Tomorrow” and “Who I Am With You.”
His fifth studio album, I’m Comin’ Over, is set for release November 13th, and Young says fans can expect more of that proven formula — passionate songs about love, break-ups and attempts to move on — delivered with an added personal touch.
“I think love — or the lack of it — is easily relatable for everybody,” he tells Rolling Stone Country. “There’s always other [topics], as least for me as a songwriter. There’s a summer song on this record and different things, for sure, but falling in love and falling out of love — trying to decide whether you’re in or out of it, all that stuff — is really easily relatable for people. I’ve definitely lived my share of love songs and breakup songs.”
Young co-produced the album with Corey Crowder, a career first that leaves the star’s fingerprints all over each verse, chorus and bridge. The added involvement sets I’m Comin’ Over apart from Young’s previous releases, showing an artist who’s ready to take his direction into his own hands.
“There’s a lot more work on the front end [as well as] in the studio after,” Young says of the production process. “I like to think I got to do some of the more tedious stuff this time. It wasn’t just listening to a mix and saying, ‘Man, I remember this one part.’ It was everything from pre-production to piecing together every single part that’s on the record. I listened to every single note that is played by every single instrument. . .entirely too many times.”
“I’m Comin’ Over,” the project’s title track and current single, finds its narrator struggling to define a red-hot but tumultuous relationship. Even though he knows it’s wrong, he just can’t stay away. With a beating-heart rhythm and Young’s casual baritone hitting the “screw it” theme perfectly, the love-sick, mid-tempo tune is currently rising toward the Top 20 on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart. Young, who co-wrote the song with Crowder and Josh Hoge, says he’s felt like that guy before.
“I don’t think breakups are ever easy for anybody,” he explains. “If they are, they aren’t much of a breakup. But when you look at ‘I’m Comin’ Over,’ whether it is the end of the relationship or not, it’s definitely the end of that part where you’re like, ‘Hey, what are we doing here? Is this thing gonna keep going? Is it gonna end? What is it?'”
Later on, Young gets wrapped up in his own warm-fuzzies with “What If I Stay,” finds a girl who competes him during “Callin’ My Name” and feels the effects of a spoiled-love hangover on “Sober Saturday Night.”
With so much emotion flying around, Young balances things out by also adding the beachy, feel-good flow of “Sunshine Overtime” and a muscle-bound, country football anthem called “Underdogs.” Still, he shines brightest when he speaks from the heart, as he does on “Think of You.” A striking, clear-eyed duet sung from the other side of a breakup, the song features Cassadee Pope as Young’s singing partner.
“It’s really exciting for me for a couple of reasons,” he says of the song. “One, it’s a male-female duet, which I’ve never put on a record, and two is that I got to do it with Cassadee Pope, who is just a phenomenal singer, and a really, really cool person.”
The insightful duet follows a former couple as they search for new roles inside their social circle post-flameout. Like “I’m Comin’ Over,” it was also written by Young, Crowder and Hoge, who teamed up for six of the album’s 11 tracks.
“It is a little bit different because if you tell somebody, ‘Hey, we wrote a male-female duet,’ they’re going to instantly think it’s a ballad,” says Young. “But this one is not; it’s more of a tempo song, and it’s an interesting perspective on how when you’re in a relationship with somebody for so long, all of your friends start to think of you as a pair. So when that’s over, it can be really strange, not only for you, but also for the people you’re around.”
I’m Comin’ Over arrives November 13th, several weeks after Young kicks off his winter tour of the same name with special guests Eric Paslay and Clare Dunn.