JT Hodges did a lot of soul searching during his transition from Toby Keith’s Show Dog-Universal record label to being an indie artist. And in that time, he found that while a lot more challenging, freedom is also intoxicating.
“For the first time, I was free to make music instinctively, rather than politically,” he says of crafting his new EP, Locks on Doors, released almost three years after his self-titled debut album. “These last few years were just what they needed to be — lots of peaks and valleys that I [was] fortunate enough to experience. That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I know there are a lot of those cliché sayings, but it’s the damn truth!”
While Hodges waxes philosophical on his new approach to making music, the music itself still has its lighthearted moments. Case in point is “Ray Bans,” a sexy, feel-good song inspired by the singer-songwriter’s wife, Kasey. The two were on vacation in Mexico when she grabbed his Ray Bans and hit the dance floor — an image that was still in his mind during a songwriting session with Bart Butler and Aaron Goodvin back in Nashville. Because Hodges actually lost those sunglasses on that trip, the three friends turned the story into a case of “the one that got away,” writing from the point of view of a guy who lost the girl but still dreams of her frolicking around in the Ray Bans she stole from him.
The song comes to life in its Marcel-directed video, generating heat through both its video vixen and some big bonfire scenes.
In addition to Locks on Doors, Hodges is featured on the recently-released Opry 9.0, Vol. 1: Discoveries from the Circle album, with live Opry recordings of both the title track to his EP and “Ray Bans” on the compilation.