Trace Adkins named his new album ‘Proud to Be Here,’ and that sums up his career outlook pretty nicely.

Adkins might be riding high on the charts now, with a string of bestselling records and hit singles to his credit, but he still remembers how he felt when he was just starting out — and, as he proved during a recent interview with Taste of Country, he knows how far he’s come.

“I can’t hardly go back and listen to [my earlier albums], especially that first album, because that sounds to me like a inexperienced guy that’s in the studio scared to death,” Adkins reflected. “That’s exactly what it was. I did the best I could, and I had some great songs to work with. I know in my opinion I have evolved and I have grown and I have gotten better [since then]. Now I can listen to this stuff and go, ‘This is about as good as I can do it.’ I think I’ve just grown and gotten a little better at what I do.”

Plenty of Adkins’ hits have played up his sense of humor (including ‘Honky Tonk Badonkadonk’ and the Blake Shelton duet ‘Hillbilly Bone’), but his latest hit, ‘Just Fishin’,’ is a more thoughtful, family-oriented song about a man spending some quality time with his daughter.

“There’s probably been a song in this vein on every album I’ve done,” says of ‘Just Fishin’.’ “A couple of times [those songs] in the past have been singles. I don’t know if I’m going to do it any more or any less, but it’s just something that I’ve always done, and this time they thought enough of the song to put it out as a single. I didn’t have a problem with that.”

[Taste of Country]