Trace Adkins "Back in Town" with renewed energy

Fri Jul 16, 2010 10:02pm EDT
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By Tom Roland

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - When Trace Adkins rolled into Spencer, Iowa, on September 20, 2009, to headline the Clay County Fair, little did the veteran country singer know that the date would change the course of his career.

"Here we are at this fair in Iowa in the middle of nowhere," Adkins recalls, his reedy speaking voice rattling through a small, comfortable second-floor room at his publicist's Music Row office in Nashville. "We saw these people beginning to gather, and somebody told me that I had played that fair before. I just made the comment, 'Oh, cowboy's back in town.'"

Within hours, Adkins and a couple of songwriting buddies -- Kenny Beard, who co-wrote his 1997 hit "The Rest of Mine," and singer-songwriter Jeff Bates -- had turned that "cowboy" phrase into a song about a woman in a relationship with someone who's often in another city. The three writers performed "Cowboy's Back in Town" acoustically for the first time that night in Spencer, and the song became a shining example of Adkins' mantra as he shifts his career.

"It was fun," Adkins says now of the day's creative burst. "That's what this business is supposed to be about."

Fourteen years after he debuted on Billboard's Hot Country Songs with "There's a Girl in Texas," Adkins is focused on reclaiming the spark he felt at the outset of his career. The album he started in September is bursting with brisk tempos and Adkins' signature acerbic wit. Due August 17, it's the first he recorded for Toby Keith's Show Dog-Universal label, and it bears the title "Cowboy's Back in Town" to reflect the spirit of that day at the Clay County Fair.


"I feel as energized and enthusiastic as I did when I first got a record deal," Adkins says. "I'm having fun again, so (the title) 'Cowboy's Back in Town' just made sense to me."

Much of that renewal can be traced directly to Adkins' 2009 run as Keith's opening act on the America's Toughest tour. Keith regularly trotted Adkins back onstage to duet during the encore on "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)."   Continued...

<p>Country music star Trace Adkins performs during the 2010 Miss USA pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada May 16, 2010. REUTERS/Steve Marcus</p>