Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum will release his debut solo album The Driver internationally on 5 February. It follows the success and acclaim for its title track lead single, which featured Kelley’s fellow country stars Dierks Bentley and Eric Paslay.
The solo album, produced by Paul Worley, spotlights Kelley with more of a raw sound and a lower, grittier vocal key than fans of Lady Antebellum are accustomed to. Having already underlined his songwriting credentials outside of the group by writing major country hits for Luke Bryan and Darius Rucker, Kelley started a solo US tour last November with guest artist Maren Morris, and has his next live date on 22 January with more American shows booked for April.
“I knew I wanted to go in a little more raw, gritty direction,” says Kelley. “I definitely had a sound I wanted to chase, getting back to more of a ’70s, Southern rock feel.” Among his own material, some of which has something of a Hall & Oates, blue-eyed soul flavour, there’s a stark and melancholy cover of Tom Petty‘s ‘Southern Accents.’
“At first, it was really weird to go in the booth and be like, ‘Where’s Hillary? Where’s Dave?’“ Kelley admits. “But it was very exciting to be the leader in there and go, ‘This is it, I’m doing this.’ It took me out of my comfort zone, and as artists we sometimes get way too comfortable and start repeating ourselves.”