Excitingly, ERNEST has turned his gaze and his songwriting pen towards new music. On October 27, the bearded crooner released the sultry ‘Kiss Of Death’, and appeared to reveal on socials that it was the beginning of his next album rollout. During his December Opry appearance, Ern confirmed he project was officially “finished”.
In addition to Lukas, ERNEST has cut a blockbuster collaboration with his good buddy and ‘Son of a Sinner’ co-writer, Jelly Roll, with the two linking up for the tongue-in-cheek autobiographical duet, ‘I Went To College, He Went To Jail’, which is yet to be released.
These are all pervaded by a decidedly neo-traditional, retro-leaning sound, with ERNEST seemingly exploring a classic feel for his new project. With ERNEST's next tour date not until April 9, we suspect he's planning on dropping the album before then.
In May 2023, the Tennessee native released the touching, heartwarming ode to his wife, Delaney, and his son, Ryman, entitled ‘Takes After You’. Thematically, the ballad treads in similar territory to ERNEST's debut release, Locals Only, but musically, ‘Takes After You’ is reminiscent of the neo-traditional sound that pervaded 2022's Flower Shops.
In addition, ERNEST has teased ‘Hangin’ On’ and ‘Summertime Flies’, both of which explore the more genre-fusing, beat-driven style of his electrifying 2023 Morgan Wallen collaboration, ‘Cowgirls’. Given the fact that these don't seem to align sonically with more recently shared snippets, such as ’Why Dallas’ and ‘Little Darlin’, it seems Ern might hold onto ‘Hangin’ On’ and ’Summertime Flies’ for another record.
Nonetheless, in a Just Being ERNEST podcast episode with Parker McCollum, which was released in September 2023, the Nashvillian revealed that he wants to take a ‘playlist’ approach to his next album, by including a long list of songs that don't necessarily all fit together musically and thematically, unlike Flower Shops.
In June, ERNEST spoke to Holler to tease the possibility of another blockbuster Morgan Wallen collaboration, which would presumably feature on the upcoming album.
The following month, the Nashville songsmith confirmed on social media that the new record will feature HARDY, as well as outlining his ideal list of features for the project, which includes Morgan Wallen, Lainey Wilson, Jelly Roll and Lukas Nelson. With Jelly Roll and Lukas Nelson both confirmed for the new record, we're still waiting to see whether ERNEST has found time to hit the studio with Morgan and Lainey.
Last year, ERNEST took to Twitter to usher in a “new era of music”. He qualified this by underlining, “Growth. Not abandonment. There’s just a lot of songs I’ve written and a lot more songs I wanna write and I don’t wanna feel pigeon holed out of cutting em”.
The singer-songwriter, who has co-written a plethora of No. 1 hits for other artists including Morgan Wallen's ‘You Proof’ and Chris Lane's ‘Big, Big Plans’, expressed his desire to showcase all aspects of his personality through his music.
ERNEST delved into his creative mindset, “My life is pretty damn good. I'm thankful. I wanna sing about it… At the same time.. I deal with depression and battle with the dark side of life as we all do sometimes.. I wanna sing about that too…”.
He went on to emphasise, “I got a beautiful little boy and an amazing family… I wanna sing about that…. I wanna write all of my story.. past, present and future”.
If this wasn't a significant enough tip-off that Ern is readying fresh material, we've also been treated to the obligatory studio shots that tend to precede a new album rollout.
For instance, the fast-emerging country prodigy accompanied a recent post from the studio with the tantalising caption, “Chipping away at some new music for the culture”.
Given ERNEST's songwriting prowess, his collaborative track record and his recent Tweets, we're expecting the upcoming project to feature an array of heavy-hitting guest appearances.
We're still waiting on ERNEST, HARDY and Morgan Wallen to release a joint song, with HARDY confirming to Holler last year that this collaboration “will happen” at some point.
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