Shenandoah Planning New Duets Album, From a Contemporary Perspective
Recent renewed interest in '90s country has led to new friendships and collaboration opportunities for Shenandoah, and the band has been soaking up every minute of it.
"We're slap-dab in the middle of a resurgence," the group explained in 2018. "It's not anything we intended on doing."
Now more than ever, '90s country fever has gained a strong foothold in country music. In 2019, Brooks & Dunn released their Reboot album, a collection of the duo's classic hits reimagined as duets with some of the genre's biggest contemporary stars. The year 2020, meanwhile, brought the rise of the Hot Country Knights, whose take on '90s country may be parody, but whose love of the style is deeply, obviously real.
Soon, it'll be Shenandoah's turn to bridge the decades: They're planning a collaborations project of their own.
"It's gonna be a duets album, for lack of a better word," the band's Marty Raybon told The Boot at the 2020 Country Radio Seminar.
"[With the] biggest artists that are out there right now," added bandmate Mike McGuire.
Shenandoah found acclaim in the '90s with massive country radio hits including "Two Dozen Roses," "Church on Cumberland Road" and "The Moon Over Georgia." But instead of revisiting those songs, the bandmates say their new project will focus on fresh material penned specifically with the new album -- and country music's current climate -- in mind.
"It's all brand-new stuff," says Raybon. "I think what we're gonna do with it is, we're gonna expand on what we've been doing, taking it in a little bit of a different direction to the point where we can actually open up the borders a little bit, and allow us to build a bridge so that some folks can come across and we can go across to some places we've never been."
Still, the new material isn't straying too far from the band's original stuff. After all, that style is what compels so many of today's artists to flock to collaborate with Shenandoah in the first place.
"We're gonna try to focus on the Shenandoah sound of the late '80s and early '90s, and mold the artists that are coming aboard," Raybon continues. "We're gonna let those guys that are doing that new sound thing in town do that new sound thing, but with a Shenandoah approach."
To strike that balance, the band is relying on a skill that has been serving them well for decades: their ability to pick out great songs.
"Our whole career has been based around songs, you know?" McGuire reflects. "The good Lord gave us ears, I believe, in being able to pick the right songs. I think part of that comes from being songwriters when we first got started in this business ... To be able to tell a hit, the song that's right for you and that's a hit, versus 10 other songs that are written really well -- it's a hard thing to do. But we've been fortunate over the years to be able to pick those songs."
Considering their career to date, the songs Shenandoah are writing and choosing for their next project have big proverbial shoes to fill. Still, the bandmates agree that their next album just might be their finest work yet.
"I mean, this new batch of songs we've got right now, I think it's as good as anything we've ever [recorded]," McGuire adds. "It may be the best album, song-wise, front to end, that we've ever done."
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