Country artist Brett Young didn’t try to ignore the prospect of facing a sophomore slump.
Well before his 2017 self-titled debut had ended its run, giving him four No. 1 singles, Young was facing the follow-up challenge head on.
“I was so scared of that sophomore slump that everybody talks about. I was scared of it like the moment we put (the debut) album out because I knew we had a great record,” Young said in a late-March phone interview. “It was such a great feeling to know that record was solid all the way through. And the second I realized that, I went how do I follow this up?”
His answer was to get to work, bringing out a variety of Nashville-based songwriters for sessions as he was on tour in summer and fall 2017 opening for Lady Antebellum. With “Ticket to L.A.” now out, Young is opening for Kelsea Ballerini on a spring run of arena shows, including a stop Friday (5/10) at the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Cedar Rapids. He’s also just seen the album’s first single, “Here Tonight,” take over the top slot on Billboard magazine’s Country Airplay chart, to become his fifth chart-topping single.
It’s all been a meteoric rise for Young. His music career started when his hopes for a career as a baseball pitcher ended with an elbow injury in college. He started going to concerts and turned to song writing. Four months later he recorded the first six songs he ever wrote and was hooked.
Young spent a decade playing covers in Los Angeles area bars and restaurants, writing songs in his free time and releasing a pair of EPs and three albums independently, hoping to get a record deal. But his break didn’t come.
Realizing his songs fit the country genre, he moved to Nashville, where he quickly made contacts and a deal with Big Machine Records. In short order, he was in a studio with noted producer Dann Huff, then watched as “Sleep Without You,” went to No. 2 at Country Airplay.
His debut album was filled with agreeable acoustic-centric midtempo tunes and ballads, many inspired by Young’s breakup with longtime girlfriend, Taylor Mills. But by the time Young was set to make “Ticket to L.A.,” they had reunited, and in November, they got married. The brighter and more energetic feel of the new songs is helping Young’s live show.
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“The show itself has a lot more energy,” he said. “The first record was kind of sleepy, and that was intentional because that’s my heart. I like to write ballads. But I think now with the second record having a little more fire to it, the goal is to make the show have a little bit more energy and tempo, and I think we’ve been doing that.”