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A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

Brian Kelley Tennessee Truth album

Brian Kelley Shares Backstory On His Bigger, Bolder Sound

You can learn a lot about Brian Kelley from listening to his lyrics, and one of the obvious insights is he loves doing things outside.

Even from his earliest days with Florida Georgia Line, Kelley has always celebrated his love for the surf and sand and saltwater fishing. On the brand-new Tennessee Truth, he moves away, just a bit, from his image as a “beach cowboy” to embrace other aspects of outdoor living. With a heavier sonic punch than his first solo outing almost three years ago, Kelley takes listeners on an inland journey that covers some new ground.

Kelley Draws On Family Roots

The title of the album comes in part from his own father’s roots in Nashville while the opening track, “Acres,” has inspiration from his wife, Brittany’s, family farm in central Georgia. As he describes it in our interview, “It’s pretty much a country-living paradise. They can easily go hunting or fishing any time they like there, or they can just kick back on the porch visiting with one another, maybe sipping from a glass of sweet iced tea and relaxing to the sound of crickets chirping.

“It’s just a special, special place,” he says. “It’s a huge part of how she grew up and how we love to live.”

Brian and Brittney Kelley

The Tennessee Truth Is A Bigger, Bolder Sound

The new album moves away from his solo debut in other ways, too. Sunshine State of Mind, released in 2021, had a breezy vibe that conjured a carefree coastal lifestyle. Generally speaking, his follow-up is bolder, brasher, and more assertive. A big part of that hot-country swagger comes from Kelley, who co-wrote eight of the 12 songs, but he extends plenty of credit to A-list Nashville producer (and ace guitarist) Dann Huff and a team of top session musicians.

Kelley says he wanted a bigger sound this time around, first of all, because the songs called for it.

“I just felt like that’s the energy I wrote them with, and that’s the energy they deserved,” Kelley says. “And letting the musicians do what they are great at really helped to shape this album.”

brian kelley

Crossing The Florida Georgia Line

Another reason that Tennessee Truth contrasts so much with Sunshine State of Mind has to do with what else was going on then. Kelley had formed the duo Florida Georgia Line along with Tyler Hubbard in 2010. Like much of the world, they had some downtime in 2020 because of the pandemic, so Kelley took a deeper plunge into songwriting. He wanted to put his toes in the water as a solo artist, he says, but he didn’t want to tread too heavily on the sounds that he and Hubbard had created together.

The Tennessee Truth Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Connection

The other meaning to the phrase that gives Kelley’s new album its title relates to Jack Daniel’s whiskey, the one that’s distilled in the same state where his father was born and raised and where Kelley got his musical start with Hubbard going on 14 years ago. It shows up in “Kiss My Boots,” which closes out the album in the form of an exclamation point.

Check out the official “Kiss My Boots” video to get the full effect >>>

The song, which was released as a single in March, is basically a sharply worded message to someone who’s been talking trash, and many listeners are quick to assume it’s a direct dig at Kelley’s FGL partner.

Like many things in life, the truth of it seems to be more complicated. In our interview, Kelley says, “The idea that liquor can sometimes act as a truth serum came about after a few hours of co-writing sessions with other writers.

“It started with the line ‘comes out with the whiskey,’” Kelley says. “Pretty soon we all realized we were writing a song that was about standing up for yourself, and it had a universal message about betrayal and trying to take the high road. It was an emotional experience for me and my co-writers.”

He continued, “It’s so much bigger than just me and what I’ve been through. As I said, I’m not the only songwriter on it. It’s about multiple things, multiple people. I think it’s most powerful for people to make it their own and figure out the truth in it for them.”

brian kelley fishing

The Road Ahead

Florida Georgia Line has not performed together since 2022 but has never officially broken up. Asked specifically whether he thinks he and Hubbard will do another project together at some point, he said: “I’m not sure. Time will tell.”

In the meantime, he’s excited about his second solo album and its bigger sound.

“What I’m really proud of,” he says, “is that it’s sonically my own. “It doesn’t sound like anything else that anybody is doing. It’s unique to me and my voice and my songwriting.”

Editor’s Note: Want more Brian Kelley? Check out officialbriankelley.com and follow him on his Instagram.

Saltwater And Music Are At The Heart Of Brian Kelley’s DNA
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