Eric Paslay takes fans back in time with his new album, Even if it breaks your bare feet Friday night, out Friday (April 15). True to its name, the nine-track project is packed full of revamped hits — both his own and those he’s written for other artists.
The album is Paslay’s first full release since the 2020s. nice guy, and it comes after a whirlwind few years that saw a pandemic and the effects of the 2020 Nashville tornado that damaged the singer’s home. Despite those obstacles, however, Paslay says the past few years have been full of precious time with his wife, Natalie, and their 3-year-old daughter, Piper.
“The last few years have been super sweet just because of Piper,” Paslay shares in an interview with Taste of Country. “She’s just over three years old and I think of the time I spent with her that I definitely have, in a world without COVID or changes like that, I wouldn’t have been there or nearly as much. .. I’m kind of like, ‘All right, this is all happening at a perfect time.'”
This period also gave Paslay enough time to spend in the studio putting a new spin on his hit songs. The album kicks off with Paslay’s 2015 single “High Class,” which greets listeners with a sweeping production that leans more acoustically than the original but pulls no punches. Then there’s Jake Owen’s 2011 hit, “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” which Paslay wrote with Dylan Altman and Terry Sawchuk. Paslay’s version retains the feel of summer fun while adding a powerful rhythm.
The inspiration for recreating these songs was threefold: Paslay simply wanted to record his own versions of songs he wrote for other artists, he enjoyed the challenge of recreating his own songs, and he now owns the masters of every song.
“I won’t say ‘Eric’s version,’ but that’s about it,” Paslay said, referring to Taylor Swift’s commitment to re-record her early albums. “The biggest thing for me was that I always liked the challenge of, ‘Could I re-record them and not make them sound exactly the same?'”
“I’m more inspired by creativity just to see if we could pull it off, and I think we did,” he says.
The process of creating the new releases included close collaboration with producer Mitch Furr. In his version of “The Driver,” a 2015 collaboration between Charles Kelley, Paslay, and Dierks Bentley, subtle piano replaces more robust production in the original. This is also the case in “She Don’t Love You”, where piano instrumentation, instead of the original guitar, is used to illustrate the song’s solitary lyrics.
“Piano and vocals. It’s about as intimate as it gets,” says Paslay.
Paslay picks up the tempo with the revamped version of 2013’s “Friday Night,” which features a slight ’80s rock vibe to the original’s banjo production. He also lends his vocals to “Rewind,” a 2014 Rascal Flatts hit that Paslay wrote with Chris DeStefano and Ashley Gorley.
Love and Theft’s “Angel Eyes” also makes an appearance, and then there’s “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” a No. 1 hit Paslay wrote with Will Hoge, which Eli Young Band released in 2012.
“People always ask, ‘What’s your favorite song you’ve written?’ And I think everything that song encompasses is my favorite type of song,” Paslay said of the Eli Young Band song. “To tell people, ‘Don’t give up and it’s okay and we’ve all been there.'”
Along with treating fans to new releases of his songs, Paslay is dropping three NFTs (non-fungible tokens) with the album. The first is a $25 ticket to join Paslay’s digital community, which gives fans access to exclusive hangouts, concerts, and Q&A sessions. The second NFT is a Paslay limited edition custom light crafted from the black walnut that hit its home in March 2020. And for the third offering on April 20, Paslay is auctioning off 10 NFTs that will give fans ownership of a percent of his royalties from the new album — something that has yet to be done in country music.
“Essentially buying an album with five guaranteed number ones on it,” Paslay said of the final NFT. “Grammy, ACM, CMA nominated songs that people will definitely play wherever you can play them because they’re already famous. It’ll be interesting.”
More than the benefits of NFTs, however, Paslay hopes Even if it breaks your bare feet Friday night brings nostalgia and fun into people’s lives.
“Just have fun,” he says. “Go back, have fun and dance Even if it breaks your bare feet Friday night.”
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