All an artist can do when making music is to work on what made them stand out in the first place. They need to do what makes them unique otherwise they can get lost in the shuffle. After a successful debut album which featured the Top 2 hit “Boots On” and the Top 20 hit “Anything Goes,” Randy Houser has returned with a sophomore album that immediately feels different than his first album. The reason for this is the approach in which they went about recording the album:
“We recorded this as more of a ‘band feeling’ than the way it’s usually done in town,” Randy says. “It was done with much of my band so it has less of a studio musician [sound] unlike what else is done in town.”
People are looking for something tangible and real and that’s exactly what They Call Me Cadillac is. So real, in fact, that when asked about the title song, Randy stated “It’s my nickname” and that like a nickname, an album should help give fans a window into “who we are as artists and people.”
That feeling of doing things ‘differently’ than before is something that Randy Houser’s friends in the Traler Park have all experienced lately as Jamey Johnson has not only recorded his albums the same way but he released the double album The Guitar Song in a time when other artists are releasing six song EPs at the same time that Jerrod Niemann and Dallas Davidson both have experienced tremendous success in their own right. It’s a family mentality and what the Traler Park and all artist collectives are about - the community and close-knit relationships.
“We’re always just proud of each other’s successes,” says Randy. “Because everybody roots for everyone so hard, even when everybody around us expects us to be competitive, we’re not. “
The fact that They Call Me Cadillac isn’t a paint-by-numbers album may make it a harder sell to radio and this isn’t lost on an artist that experienced great success at country radio in 2009. Songs like the title track, “Lowdown and Lonesome” and “Will I Always Be This Way” may not have a sound that fits in next to the latest hit single from Carrie Underwood but Randy decided that the time was right to “make a record all [his] buddies would like to listen to” and to not worry about making something he thinks is right for radio because, at the end of the day, he’s the one who has to sing the songs night after night.
“If they’re not going to play what you think they want, why would you continue to record the kinds of songs they’re not gonna play anyway?”
At the same time, he does need radio to help get people not only interested in his music but to come out to his shows and because of that, he still is trying to break songs at radio. The next single from the album “A Man Like Me” found Randy Houser declaring the track as “one of the more commercially viable, radio sounding songs on the record.” He went on to declare that “it mixes the best of both worlds” and hopes that “People think that’s cool again.”
Another component to an artist’s success these days is how a digital single fares in addition to the traditional album and radio hit chart models. While only a Top 30 hit, First single “Whistlin’ Dixie” sold around 200,000 copies, according to Houser. It’s an impressive number that shows passion for what he’s doing and if radio can come around to the more ‘traditional’ or ‘edgier’ sound that Randy Houser has presented on They Call Me Cadillac they may just get back some of the fans they’ve lost due to corporate cutbacks, playlist controls, etc.
That lack of airplay list elasticity is – perhaps – one of the reasons why Randy Houser’s tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd, his version of their classic hit “Simple Man,” wasn’t the kind of grass-roots hit that used to happen. It really wasn’t allowed to happen because if enterprising DJs or station managers did allow it to get a regular rotation spot, others in the company wouldn’t like that as much and thus the song didn’t get a chance to grow legs. Still, such things haven’t detoured Randy’s thoughts about possibly making a tribute record to his heroes sometime in the future.
“I’d get a great band and record the stuff that people sometimes feel ‘too good’ to play,” he says. “The classic songs like “Can’t You See,’ the stuff people love to hear in those honky tonks and bars all over he country.”
“It’d be a good album and a great concept.” And tying this conversation back to They Call Me Cadillac and the freer, more artistic freedom of his label’s new boss Toby Keith when asked about working with Toby he said, “I think [he’s] game to let you do what you want to do, sink or swim.”
With that kind of freedom, Randy Houser has crafted an album that feels timeless, and very much the music he grew up listening to and was inspired by. He co-wrote every track on the album with one of the songs (“Here With Me”) self-written. With the music a good snapshot of who he is as an artist, Randy hopes that fans will give him a “chance” and “listen to the songs to decide what you like or not.” He also hopes that if people enjoy what they hear what they like that they “support me so that I get to make more music in the future.”
You can check out our review of They Call Me Cadillac by clicking the album image to the left. You can also enter a contest to win an autographed copy of this album by clicking here.