Cody Johnson’s Cowboy Mentality Led Him to New Album, ‘Ain’t Nothin’ to It’
On Friday (Jan. 18), Cody Johnson drops his major-label debut, Ain't Nothin' to It. After years as a successful independent artist in the Texas country music scene, Johnson's 2019 release -- his seventh studio album -- is his first in partnership with Warner Music Nashville.
The 15 songs on Ain't Nothing to It are full of Johnson's traditional-country style and rich with real-life experiences (as a former rodeo cowboy and prison guard, he's got plenty of stories to tell!). As a whole, Johnson tells The Boot, fans can expect to hear a little bit of everything when they press play.
"I feel you get a little Southern rock influence, you get a little bit of blues-Motown," Johnson says. "You do get some hardcore, traditional-style country, you get some '90s country, you get some Texas-esque-type country."
As such, Johnson admits, it's hard to pick one song that embodies his new album as a whole; however, it's easy to find the one that really sticks out from the pack.
"There’s a song called "Nothing on You" -- it’s the most left-field song ... It’s very Motown and bluesy, but somehow, it’s still very traditional and country," he explains. "I feel like that song was our one song where we stepped out of the box and said, 'You know what, let’s do this.'
"It doesn’t matter what label people put on you: 'He is this, he’s that, he is this type of country.' We’re just going to do this because it’s fun, it feels good, it makes people move," Johnson adds. "I think that mentality, that is what most embodies the entire album."
On a personal level, Johnson says, the record's final non-bonus track, "Dear Rodeo," resonates most with him. The passion for his former sport that he sings about in the song is hard to get right if you haven't experienced it, he says.
"If you haven’t lived it, you can’t really write it, I can’t really sing it," says the one-time bull-rider. "It’s one thing to sing a rodeo song; it’s a completely different thing to sing a song about having to leave something that impactful behind ... You had to have lived the song for people to believe you. I don’t sing stuff that you can’t believe."
In addition to providing inspiration for his music, Johnson's time as a cowboy has aided him in his journey to signing with a major Nashville label. After all, part of being a true cowboy is about knowing what you stand for and not sacrificing it.
"There’s been plenty of opportunities to 'get rich, get famous' over the years with a label deal that wasn’t right, and I just didn’t really care about it," Johnson says. "I think that mentality is what landed us a groundbreaking 50-50 partnership with one of the major labels in town. The only person that has the deal that is structured like mine is Kenny Chesney, and I think that speaks to the amount of thought and unwillingness to sacrifice what we had."
Ain't Nothin' to It is available now on iTunes.
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