“I’m guilty of being introspective,” Eric Paslay tells Rolling Stone Country. “But I am also guilty of being a goofball, and having fun.”
Certainly his new single “High Class” puts that lighthearted spirit on display — it’s a polar opposite to the modest delivery of tracks like “She Don’t Love You” off his 2014 self-titled debut, favoring a thumping beat about the nightlife over a pensive melody. Now in the process of honing his follow-up album, he’s eager to embrace both the part of his being that enjoys a slow, acoustic ballad and the one that’s a little more raucous — without succumbing to the fear of a sophomore slump.
“I’m not afraid — I probably should be, right?” Paslay asks with a laugh. “I guess I would be if I didn’t have great songs. You have your whole life for the first record, and some of those songs I had been singing for years. They are almost sentimental. ‘High Class,’ however, is just fun.”
Paslay, who worked as a songwriter in Nashville before he struck out as a solo artist, earning cuts with Jake Owen (“Barefoot Blue Jean Night”) and Love and Theft (“Angel Eyes”), actually dug into his own back catalog for source material when planning his upcoming album.
“Some of the songs were held by other people for years, but not recorded,” he explains. “And you never know why. So I was like, ‘Shoot, I’m recording that!’ Half of them were new songs, about being on the road and the life of the last album. But it’s different heartbeats, different melodies. And there are more surprises — there are a few ballads, and it’s not all loud.”
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Being loud actually doesn’t come natural to the native Texan, but neither does the splashy stage moves that a song like “High Class” demands. So he’s made it a point to master both.
“I’m more of an introvert than anything,” he says. “But you learn how to shake it a little.”
Along with “High Class,” Paslay also lends his voice to Charles Kelley’s new solo single, the sublime “The Driver.” During Rolling Stone Country‘s recent Nashville Live party, presented by Ram, Paslay surprised fans by joining Kelley onstage for the song.