Scotty McCreery on Why New Album ‘Same Truck' Is ‘More in the Moment' Than Past Work

Scotty McCreery

After a decade in the spotlight, Scotty McCreery has learned to trust his instincts — and the 27-year-old admits he set the bar high when writing songs for his new album, Same Truck, released Sept. 17 via Triple Tigers. McCreery credits the pandemic with giving him extra time to craft songs he felt were strong enough to follow the three consecutive chart-topping singles on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart from his fourth studio album, 2018’s Seasons Change.

“We had a lot of an album ready to go before the pandemic and, if I’m being honest, I didn’t feel I was writing my best stuff — I didn’t think I had a ‘Five More Minutes’ or a ‘This Is It’ here,”  McCreery says of the No. 1 songs from Seasons Change. (“In Between” was his third chart-topping single from the album.) “A silver lining over last year is that I had that extra time to pick up a guitar and write songs. There were a lot of Zoom writes. We had a couple songs we wrote before that made the record, but most of this would be from the last year and half.”

It’s been a decade since the Garner, NC native won the 10th season of American Idol in 2011, and saw his debut album, Clear As Day, debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Scoring three consecutive No. 1 singles with Seasons Change took McCreery’s career to a new level and he admits working on the follow-up was a little daunting. “I don’t know if it was scary — more so that I’m a competitor by nature,” he tells Billboard. “I always want to set the bar for the next album. I want to set it even higher for myself, so I wanted to be writing the best stuff I could be writing, songs that mean something and come from a place in my heart that I care about. I’m super proud of the message in these songs and the perspective of this record.”

McCreery co-wrote 10 of the album’s 12 tracks, including the album’s lead single, “You Time,” currently in the top five on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart. “It was one of those I kept coming back to — I’d be doing the dishes or I’d be in the shower, but I kept singing those three ‘you time’s at the end of the chorus, and I thought that was a good sign,” he says. “I wrote this in more normal times when my wife was working at the hospital and I was on the road. It was like, every time she was at home, I was on the road, and every time she was at the hospital, I was at home. We just weren’t seeing each other.”

Of course, the pandemic provided the time together that the newlyweds had been craving. “Last year she took off to do the road with me,” he says of wife Gabi, a pediatric nurse. “Then in March obviously the world shut down, and we didn’t get to do that. But that’s another silver lining for me in the last year. Obviously, these are awful circumstances, but me and her never thought we’d get to spend every day together until we retired, because of the nature of what we do. It was nice.”

The couple, who have known each other since elementary school, live in North Carolina. “Before the pandemic, I convinced Gabi to change one of our guest bedrooms into a studio so I can work on songs and hear mixes. I spent more time in there this last year than ever working on the record, writing songs on Zoom and playing guitar. It’s like I got back to being 13 years old again. I haven’t had the time to sit and do that over the last 10 years.”

McCreery’s next single, “Damn Strait,” was penned by Trent Tomlinson and Jim Collins, and he says he knew immediately he wanted to cut it. “I had an email from Kevin Herring at my label and he said, ‘Hey, take a listen to this song. It just came through for you,’ and I kind of had a little mini freak out session because I’m a huge George Strait fan,” he says. “I love the different tidbits in there of songs of his… It’s a classic country breakup song, but [it’s also] paying homage to George Strait throughout the song. It’s so cleverly written. If you’re a country fan, a George Strait fan, this song is so cool.”

McCreery co-wrote the title track with Ashley Gorley, Taylor Phillips and Zach Crowell. Though it might seem to be just another salute to most country music fans’ vehicle of choice, the song is really a poignant, unifying anthem. “The song started as just a truck thing, talking about my truck Loretta that I won on Idol and I still drive today,”  he says with a grin. “I love that truck! I’m going to drive it until the wheels fall off.”

From there, the song took on a more topical slant. “It transitioned into more a talk of the times we’re living in,” he explains. “It’s a country take on ‘we’re all on the same team here.’ I’ve realized we’re all more alike than we are different. If people could build each other up instead of tear each other down, the world would be a better place. We took that thought and made it into a country song.”

The album also includes a tribute to McCreery’s home state with “Carolina to Me.” “My drummer always jokes with me and is like, ‘Man, when you retire one day you should go work for North Carolina tourism, because you love it so much,’” McCreery relates with a smile. “Jeremy Bussey and Taylor Phillips had the idea and I came in and kind of helped them. Taylor is from Sanford, North Carolina, right down the road from Garner where I grew up… It’s no secret if you follow me, you know I love [Carolina]. It’s a piece of heaven on earth to me.”

Same Truck is an album that not only echoes the country star’s love for his wife and home state, but also reflects his artistic growth and maturity. McCreery’s rich, resonant voice has never felt more confident and self-assured, and his voice as a songwriter is strong. “A lot of my records have looked ahead and this one is more in the moment,” he says. “It’s looking at how awesome things have been and how grateful I am.”

When asked what advice he’d go back and give his teenage self a decade ago, McCreery says, “I would have probably told myself to be patient and let things happen, and dig into the songwriting aspect of it. If I could give that advice from a 27-year-old me, to a 17-year-old me I would have taken it — but you have to grow up and you have to live life. I didn’t have a lot of those life experiences that I’m writing about today.”

McCreery will be out on the road this fall supporting the new album, and he’s looking forward to sharing the new music. “This is all my heart that’s poured into this record,” he says. “Let’s all build each other up. Let’s find some common ground. That’s where ‘Same Truck’ comes from. I hope they hear how much I love my wife on this record. And [with songs] like ‘How Ya Doin’ Up There’ and ‘The Waiter,’ I always try to point people towards my faith as well. I hope they see my heart on this record.”

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