Lee Brice is a man whose time has come. On his stunning sophomore album, Hard 2 Love (Curb Records), the four-time Academy of Country Music nominee demonstrates a new maturity and patience, both in his songwriting and vocals.
“I made my first album, Love Like Crazy, over six years,” explains the South Carolina native, lifting his trademark turned-around ball cap and rubbing his forehead. “It didn’t feel like a cohesive record, but more like a lot of different songs. And six years later, I’ve grown as an artist and a writer.
“Everything on the new album is very pertinent to who I am right now and where I am in my life. I have some very personal stuff on there, and I had to be really honest with it. Hopefully, folks will see that.”
Certainly radio listeners are already aware of “A Woman Like You,” a married couple’s starkly honest meditation on love and devotion. Immediately upon release, the mid-tempo ballad became iTunes’ number five most-purchased song and sold more than 30,000 copies a week. Not bad for a first single off an album. “It’s moving faster than anything I’ve ever had,” Brice says with a smile in his warm, familiar baritone. “It’s just so real.”
As “A Woman Like You” suggests, Brice presents himself throughout the album as a man who fully knows who he is and steps up to own it. He co-produced every track, bringing in friends Kyle Jacobs, Jon Stone, Doug Johnson and Matt McClure to share production duties on various cuts.
“At 32, I’m growing up, and I’ve done a lot more singing, not just in the studio but live. I’ve done about 200 shows a year for the last five years, and I realized that you can move people and peel their faces back without necessarily screaming at them. I’m just learning there is a patience that you gain with experience and I’m trying to dig in. You could be a great singer or performer, but it’s the whole package that makes an artist. It starts with the music that’s out there.”