While Randy Houser scored his first consistent string of radio hits with the 2013 album How Country Feels, it’s his 2010 album They Call Me Cadillac that, song for song, stands as his most accomplished body of work. A bluesy, at times raw, collection of Southern rockers and devastating ballads, it spotlighted both the Mississippi native’s powerful voice and his gift as a songwriter. Houser appears to be back on that same course with his first new music in two years, “What Whiskey Does.”
The song, written by Houser with Keith Gattis and Hillary Lindsey, is a self-medicating barroom weeper, heavy on the steel and elevated by crisp backing vocals from Lindsey. But it’s Houser’s lived-in voice – one of the best set of pipes this side of Chris Stapleton – that gives “What Whiskey Does” its tortured heart. “When that ice cold beer loses its buzz,” he laments, “I’m gonna let that whiskey do what whiskey does.”
Houser says the song is representative of a new record that he’s been recording, the follow-up to 2016’s Fired Up. “Two years ago I started working on a new album. I’m very proud of this body of work,” he tells Rolling Stone Country. He captured the creation of “What Whiskey Does” in a companion in-the-studio video. “We had the band in the studio on standby while we finished the lyrics, so it was written and recorded in one day. Sometimes it happens like that, lightning strikes and you just sort of go with it. To have Hillary’s voice on the song just puts the icing on the cake. I’m so thrilled to finally share the first piece of what we’ve been working on and I can’t wait to let everyone hear the rest of this album.”
Houser, who first broke out in Nashville as a songwriter with peers Jamey Johnson and Jerrod Niemann, scored moderate hits with the one-night-stand ballad “Anything Goes” and the rough-and-ready “Boots On” before earning a string of chart-toppers that included “How Country Feels,” “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight” and “Goodnight Kiss.” Currently on the road this summer, he’ll perform in Chicago on July 1st.