When it came to narrowing down songs for Thomas Rhett's new album, Center Point Road, you better believe his family had the final say.
While performing at his iHeartCountry Album Release Party in New York City (hosted by Amy Brown of The Bobby Bones Show) on Thursday (May 30), the country singer revealed what it took to create his fourth studio album and who he trusted the most when deciding what songs to put on the 16-track project.
"I write all my songs on the road," he said of his writing process. "I would say 15 of the 16 were written on the road because when I got back to Nashville after a run of shows the last thing I think my wife [Lauren Akins] wants me to do is go back into town and do music music music. So when I go on the road I bring songwriters from Nashville and we just wake up and write songs [from the morning] to meet-and-greet [time] at night. So by the end of the year, you're sitting with about 100 songs."
And when it came to narrowing those 100 songs down to the lucky 16 that made the final cut, Thomas said he definitely went with his gut, but he also relied heavily on his family's opinions. "My wife is my best judge of songs 'cause if she doesn't like it, it probably means that 80% of this room would not like it," he said, before adding, "I judge it by my kids [Willa Gray, 3 and Ada James, 1] too. I've noticed that when I play a demo for my kids if they don't ask to hear it again it's probably not great. So if they keep asking me to repeat it, and play it and play it then it's good."
After performing a few new songs off his deeply personal album —"Beer Can't Fix" and "Remember You Young"— and a few of his classic hits —"Crash and Burn" and "Marry Me"— Thomas discussed what influenced Center Point Road and how he locked in a name for the LP.
"When we were talking about what we were going to name the record, there were a lot of songs on the record like "That Old Truck," "Remember You Young," a lot of very nostalgic songs that I talk about where I grew up, Hendersonville, Tennessee. That's where I did a lot of my living and it kind of seemed like Center Point Road, no pun intended, was the centerpiece of the record," he explained of the track, which is named after a road he literally road down almost every day of his adolescence. "When you're thinking about a record title you're thinking about a song off the record and "Center Point Road" seemed like the perfect way to describe what all the songs are about."
The project also features some of the biggest names in country music, including Kelsea Ballerini, Jon Pardi, and Little Big Town. And while one might think it took a lot to get those big names on his project, Thomas said it didn't take more than a text.
"I think that's what's so cool about country," he shared. I feel like I could call anybody in our genre and [get them on a song]. I feel like I'm friends with a lot of people and they're very genuine friendships and so I remember writing "Beer Can't Fix" for example off the record and I remember saying 'This song feels like Jon Pardi' has to be on this [...] so I texted Jon and said 'I got this song that I think you'd sound great on' and I sent him the demo and two days later his voice was on it."
So it's really cool how in our genre you can do that," Thomas added. "I did the same thing with Kelsea and [for] "Don't Threaten Me With A Good Time," I wrote that with Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town."
Thomas Rhett's iHeartCountry Album Release Party Setlist:
- Look What God Gave her
- Life Changes
- Remember You Young
- Die a Happy Man
- Craving You
- That Old Truck
- Beer Can't Fix
- Marry Me
- Crash and Burn
Center Point Road drops on Friday (May 31).
Photos: Katherine Tyler for iHeartRadio