While writing and recording his new album, Jerrod Niemann immersed himself in the history of country music. A student of music theory and production, the Kansas native and newly signed ASCAP member pondered a question that is heard more and more frequently these days: Just what exactly constitutes country? His answer to that query can be found in the musically and technically groundbreaking Free the Music, due out October 2nd.
Niemann's Sea Gayle/Arista Nashville debut Judge Jerrod & the Hung Jury arrived at #1 and yielded the chart-topping hits "Lover, Lover" and "What Do You Want." His sophomore album with visionary co-producer and fellow ASCAP member Dave Brainard emphasizes the early instruments that have shaped the genre: acoustic guitars, bass, fiddles and even horns. A true "headphones album," Free the Music is a sonic journey through a multitude of styles, including country, rock, honky-tonk, Dixieland jazz and reggae.
In addition to his efforts as an artist, Niemann has co-writing credits on the Garth Brooks hit "Good Ride Cowboy," and has penned two others for the Country Music Hall of Famer, along with songs for Blake Shelton, Lee Brice, John Anderson and Jamey Johnson. "The most important thing to me is songwriting. But no one can ever hear a song without a vehicle, whether it's me or somebody else singing it," admits Niemann. "If someone told me I had to choose between playing and writing, I don't know what I'd choose."
Listen to Niemann discuss his new record, Free the Music, due out on October 2nd, in an ASCAP Audio Portrait.