Charlie Daniels' latest album, Beau Weevils -- Songs in the Key of Ewas recorded by a cast of four musicians who had long hoped to work together: Daniels, drummer James Stroud, guitarist Billy Crain and bassist Charlie Hayward. The country icon says he and Stroud have shared a special musical connection ever since they met.

When he first began searching for a producer in Nashville, Daniels opted to work with Stroud, despite the fact that there were more established producers available at the time. "James was just starting out; he didn't have a very prominent name at the time," Daniels recalls. "But I talked to James, and I knew we had chemistry. I knew I could make good records with this guy."

Over the course of their work together, Daniels says, he's always wanted to collaborate with Stroud as a drummer, not just as a producer; however, the opportunity never presented itself, until he started writing the group of songs that eventually became his Beau Weevils project.

"It was pretty evident, not from the record, but just from the first few notes, to me, that we were on the right trail, because it just felt so good," Daniels continues. "Two verses in, it was just like your heart was beating to it."

Immediately, playing together was easy and natural. "Aside from the physical part of getting everybody [together to play], everything else just kinda clicked in," he say. "The music, the arrangements, the tempos, the everything about it -- everything just kind of started fitting together."

"I listen to this record all the time, and I don't do that. I'm very jaded," Stroud chimes in, adding that the ease and fun of the recording sessions translates to the listening experience. "When I listen to this record, I'm smiling. I'm laughing ... I have so much fun with it."

Blue Hat Records

Daniels dedicated Songs in the Key of E to the late BB King, and the project takes plenty of swampy, blues-soaked cues from the legendary player. "You can go way back, and there's older blues players, but, to me, he personifies the kind of Delta blues that I love," Daniels explains. "He just brought the blues out of the jukes."

True to the album's title, all Beau Weevils' songs are in the key of E -- although Daniels is quick to add that the theme wasn't intentional. Instead, much like the other aspects of making the record, the common key emerged naturally.

"That was just the key I sung 'em in," he says with a shrug. "When I started singing 'em, they always ended up in the key of E, and it got to the point where I was like, 'Well, we'll do 'em all in the key of E then."

Daniels says that giving the group the name the Beau Weevils happened circumstantially, too. The moniker is a tip of the hat to the boll weevil, a kind of beetle that feeds on cotton plants and is prevalent in the southern U.S. states; however, upon further research, the insect had already lent its name to a Chicago-based punk rock band that formed in the late '80s.

"So we just decided to go southern with it and spell it B-E-A-U," Daniels proclaims. "That's how it basically came up with us."

Stroud has an even simpler explain: "We just look like [boll weevils]," he says.