After evolving from homegrown Texas hero to mainstream hit-maker, dealing with accusations of “selling out” from some of his earliest fans and eventually walking away from music for a short recharge, Pat Green is back this summer with Home. The album hits stores August 14th via a partnership with Thirty Tigers, marking Green’s first time releasing an album of original songs without major-label backing since the late Nineties.
It’s been six years since Green’s last collection of originals, and in many ways, his new music feels like a return to form. It’s a thank-you to fans who stood by him and an olive branch to any lingering detractors, as well as a continuation of the musical path he’s been following for years. Now that his major-label run is behind him, Green’s spark of Texan independence has nothing holding it back — perceived or otherwise.
“I think it’s funny that people thought I sold out,” he tells Rolling Stone Country. “I’m like, ‘Nothing changed; I just got paid more.’ Certainly, there are times when you’re on a BNA or RCA [label] when they’re like, ‘We’ve gotta polish this up for radio.’ That’s the way it goes. But I think everything else sounded like what I would do, anyway.
“With [Home singles] ‘While I Was Away’ and ‘Girls From Texas,’ we weren’t going out there gearing for mainstream country radio at all,” he continues. “We were going straight at Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana — taking that core audience that is mine and really giving them something for them.”
Over 13 tracks, Home features a mature, easy-going country sound — one that’s rooted and free of cross-genre influence — and lands somewhere between Green’s early Texas dancehall days and big radio hits like “Wave on Wave.”
The album begins with the title track, co-written by Green and Patrick Davis, and a chorus that boldly addresses Green’s time in the mainstream. “I was blind to the game, I sang the wrong songs and disappeared for way too long,” goes the refrain, “but I’ve finally found my way home.”
“I really just wanted to make a statement to our hometown fans — the ones that were with me forever — and say, ‘I recognize that what I did, I did on purpose,'” Green explains. “And it might have distanced me a bit, going out on tour with Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews. I don’t regret that, but at the same time, I can understand why there are people out there that aren’t the keenest on it.
“Maybe I did sing the wrong song — I’m not above saying I’m not sure — but I did the best I could,” he continues. “I love the description in ‘Home’ of the bravado that was me and the band when we first hit. I mean, we were like, ‘Fine, you say what you want to; we’ll see you. . .never.’ But then you slow down a little bit, you get tempered by age, children, wives, success and failure, and then maybe I sang the wrong songs. I don’t know. We all look back and go, ‘Man, if I had done that a little different,’ but you can really get in trouble doing that. You can waste a lot of years looking back.”
“It’s funny that people thought I sold out. I’m like, ‘Nothing changed; I just got paid more.'”
“Girls From Texas,” the project’s first single, is a loping lullaby that, once again, speaks directly to his original fans. It recently spent 10 weeks at Number One on the Texas Music Chart. Co-written by Shane McAnally and Jon Randall, the song touches on things that make women around the country unique, while insisting that the ones from the Lone Star State are just a little bit better than the rest. As an added bonus, Green recorded it as a duet with one of his favorite Texas artists, Lyle Lovett.
“He’s very precise,” Green remembers. “I’ve never seen anybody who has a delivery as precise as [Lovett’s] is. He’s really thoughtful. I mean, I’m thoughtful, but he takes it to a whole other level. . .We went to this guy’s house — it was like a house studio with a couple of microphones set up — and the two of us sang it looking at each other. That was a moment I’ll never forget.”
Heading off in a different direction is Green’s current single, “While I Was Away,” a lump-in-your-throat emotional rollercoaster dedicated to parents whose careers force them to spend time away from their families.
“That song makes me cry,” Green says of the track, written by Zane Williams. “It’s supposed to be a tearjerker, but also, the best part about missing somebody is seeing them again. I think that’s the hope of the song. It’s like, ‘You might have grown up while I was away, but at the same time, so did I.’ At least that’s what I hope my kids get out of it — and my life. There was no shortage of love, just a shortage of time.”
Admittedly, getting back to this point wasn’t easy, and the singer-songwriter says he needed time to recover from the strain of the country music machine.
“I was really burnt out,” he admits. “From Three Days to Wave on Wave to Lucky Ones to Cannonball and What I’m For, those five albums came out within a year or so of each other, and I was smoked. It seemed like I was promoting one record, and I would leave the promotion and drive to the studio to record the next one. I’m not saying I’m too old for that shit or anything like that — but I’m too old for that shit.”
Now that Green’s back on his own, though, he feels like he can take the time to do things right. He’s excited again, insisting that Home is just the first step back toward wherever he’s meant to be.
“I’m starting to write now [for the next album],” he says. “I don’t wanna say it’s a comeback, but I think I should do two records back-to-back, maybe even three, then breathe for a minute. I’m still feeling the itch.”
Maybe he’s not too old for this shit after all.