The title of Billy Currington’s new album, Enjoy Yourself, says it all. “That’s what I want people to think about doing when they hear my music,” the happy-go-lucky Georgia native says. “I want them to have a good time.”
The album, Billy’s fourth since he busted onto the scene in 2003, builds on the success of his 2008 collection, Little Bit of Everything, which yielded three No. 1 hits: “Don’t,” “People Are Crazy” and “That’s How Country Boys Roll.”
During the course of his career Billy has netted eight Top Ten singles and six No. 1s. He’s sold nearly 2 million records and toured with the likes of Brad Paisley, Sugarland and will tour this fall with Carrie Underwood.
As with Little Bit of Everything, Billy’s latest features his now trademark mix of country, R&B and beach music. “It’s a great mix. It reflects who I am,” he says. “I’m definitely not just one thing. I’m the beach guy, I’m the country guy, I love my dirt roads and fishin,’ but I love New York City and L.A. and Miami, too.”
The album is a perfect storm of material that Billy has been eyeing for just the right moment to release. “Some of these songs date back six to eight years”. “There’s always a right time for everything.”
Finding the right song for the right album is a process Billy prides himself on. “I like to live with the songs I’m considering for an album. I like to go to bed at night and wake up in the morning and know I still love a song. If I still love it two years later, maybe other people will too.”
The album’s title cut is a tropical entreaty to do just what it suggests and the first single, “Pretty Good At Drinkin’ Beer,” is a bona fide hit that taps into Billy’s laid back attitude. Interestingly, he found the latter song on the same demo CD as “People Are Crazy.” “I knew I should only pick one beer song for my last album so I held on to ‘Pretty Good At Drinkin’ Beer.’ When it came time to record, that was the first one I threw up in the air. Everyone was in agreement that it was a good summertime, first single for an album.”
“Bad Day of Fishin’,” Billy’s songwriting contribution to the record, hilariously advances his theory that a bad day of fishin’ beats a good day of anything else.
The equally hilarious “Like My Dog,” includes the lyrics I want you to love me like my dog does. “It’s about a relationship with you and your dog and how you wish your woman would love you just as much and in the same ways,” Billy says with a grin.
But the album is more than songs about dogs and beer. “Until You,” which was written by Dave Barnes, is a love song pure and simple. “It’s got this great melody and simplified smart lyric about you and your girl out under the sky and overlooking the city at night, just enjoying each other’s company.”
“Let Me Down Easy” is soulful and sexy, while “All Day Long” is “happy and kind of sexy,” according to Billy. “Nothing too serious.”
“Perfect Day,” written by Dale Dodson, Dean Dillon and Scotty Emerick taps into Billy’s beach leanings. “It’s about getting on your sail boat and taking off at sunrise and ending at sunset and starting over the next day doing the same thing,” explains Billy. “It’s about waiting on the light of another perfect day.”
If you’re noticing a trend here, you’re right—there’s not a sad song on the set. Even “Love Done Gone,” a Louisiana infused tune complete with trumpets and trombones, puts a positive spin on a break up.
“It’s a good vibe album,” Billy explains. “I hope it’s one of those albums that someone can put in when they’re hanging out in their camp spot or they’re grilling out by their pool and just feel good through the whole thing.”
“I know people like sad songs, but they like happy songs more,” Billy believes. “It took me a while to figure that out. Growing up I was a fan of all of Merle Haggard’s sad stuff and George Strait’s sad stuff—anybody that was singing sad songs. I thought that’s what I wanted to do.”
Turns out, it wasn’t. After feeling the air sucked out of the room when he played heartbreak songs in his otherwise positive live shows, Billy decided he’d leave the sad songs to someone else. “I don’t want to feel that way or make anyone else feel that way when they’re listening to my music. I want people to walk away feeling happy.”
“I can’t say I won’t ever record a sad song again, but you’ll mostly hear happy stuff from me from here on,” Billy notes with conviction.
The album features Nashville’s top songwriters, including Troy Jones, Shawn Camp and Mark Nesler.
“This record was about recording songwriter’s songs,” says Billy. “I could have gone back and recorded a bunch of mine that I’ve written, but there were a lot of writers I wanted to record, like Shawn and Troy. I had to put their songs on this album.”
“I always go back to those same writers,” he adds. “They tend to keep writing the good ones.”
The album consists of what Billy has learned so far. “As an artist, I’ve gotten so much better all the way around. In the studio, live, playing the guitar and I’ve strengthened my voice. If you name anything I do musically, it’s gotten better with practice. I still have a lot to learn but I feel that like anything in life, you get better the more you do it.”
If Billy is this good now, who knows where the future will take him. He still has room to grow, he believes. “I definitely want to take these next couple of years and tour with the biggest acts that I can. I want to learn even more.
“I want to do my own big tour, but I don’t want to do it right now,” he adds. “I’m smart enough to know that I’m not ready for that yet. Give me a couple more years and a couple more songs on the radio.
“I’m in a good place. I’m in a happy spot,” Billy says with a wide smile on his face. “I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past five years, not only personally, but also as a businessman and an artist.”
“I’m a lot more laid back than I used to be,” Billy continues, noting with a laugh, “I used to get told I was so laid back I was horizontal. I feel good and healthy and I might not have been able to say that 10 years ago.”
Make no doubt about it: Billy Currington is right where he wants to be.