Thomas Rhett’s Co-Writers Help Him Braid Style With Substance
Thomas Rhett's the first one to admit that not every single song he puts out has to be deeply meaningful. "Trust me, I've written songs that have meant a whole lot of nothing -- a whole lot of it," he laughingly told The Boot and other outlets at a recent press event. Still, he's excited to see country music trends turning away from the tropes of hard-partying bro-country and toward songs with more substantive lyrics.
"I mean, I was listening to the radio on the way over here, and I didn't even notice -- there were five or six songs in a row that had substance. Which was nice! And you can do substance and it can still be fun," he points out.
Still, it can be challenging to write a song that's both catchy and substantive. That's why it helps to have co-writers, Rhett goes on to say. "My struggle has always been writing an uptempo [song] that has meat to it," he continues. "Because if I were to just sit down with a guitar ... I will always write a 6/8 ballad."
Rhett intentionally surrounds himself with co-writers who push him to consider other possibilities for his songs, especially those who aren't too timid to tell him when he shouldn't pursue an idea.
"It's so good to surround yourself with people that will always challenge you to make it better, and go, 'Man, I don't think that's the line,' or, 'I don't think that's the idea we should write,' or, 'I have an idea that's something similar to that; let's try this,'" Rhett explains. "I think when you can be in a room with a lot of people that aren't 'yes' people, you're surrounding yourself with the right people."
In Rhett's case, that group is a carefully honed collective of writers who hail from both Nashville and LA, including pop songwriting juggernauts, Nashville mainstays and even his own dad, '90s hitmaker and prolific songwriter Rhett Akins. Julian Bunetta, Sean Douglas, Jacob Kasher, Joe London, John Ryan and Ammar Malik are all among the list of writers Rhett counts as his closest collaborators.
"What this crew has helped me to do is be brutally honest and go, 'Hey, man, I think you can do better than that,' or, 'I think this is really great,'" Rhett adds.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with writing a song that doesn't mean anything. "Sometimes people just want a song and [to] not think about anything, and have a melody that feels great -- something that they can put their arm out the window and roll down the road to," the singer allows. "But, for me, I do love to sit down and write a really great song that means something, whether it's happened to me or happened to somebody else.
"I do like to write from personal experience, and this crew has really helped me bring that vision to life," he adds.
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