Although she just turned 40, LeAnn Rimes have been in the country & pop spotlight for a remarkable 27 years. She was just 13 when she released her album, Blue (on Curb Records) which contained several hits and was certified multi-platinum. Rimes went on to have a flurry of hits in the next decade, and she won two Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist. She’s also won CMA and ACM Awards.
This week (on Sept. 16), Rimes is releasing her new album, god’s work (on EverLe Records via Thirty Tigers/The Orchard), which is her first album in four years. It’s a high-quality work that not only features country music, but explores other genres including pop, blues and soul. And at the heart of the album is Rimes’ powerful, expressive lead vocals, which are in fine form.
For her new album, Rimes collaborates with several top artists. Contributing to her album are performances by such varied artists as Ziggy Marley, Mickey Guyton, Aloe Blacc, Sheila E., Ben Harper and Ledisi.
Impressively, Rimes co-wrote almost all the songs on her new album. She has again teamed up with her longtime collaborator, Darrell Brown. The duo of Rimes & Brown wrote & produced 11 of the 12 songs on the album.
Highlights on the new album include the title cut, “god’s work” (which features vocals by Guyton and Tata Vegas, plus blues guitar playing by Robert Randolph), the soulful, emotional “awakening,” “the only” (featuring Marley, Ledisi and Harper), and “i do” (a strong ballad duet with Blacc).
We’re pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Rimes. But before we get started, here’s a brief rundown of the hit songs and albums she’s had in her career. She’s had multiple hits on both the country and pop charts. Her biggest hits are: “Blue,” “One Way Ticket (Because I Can),” “Unchained Melody,” “The Light in Your Eyes,” “How Do I Live,” “Looking Through Your Eyes,” “Commitment,” “Nothin’ New Under the Moon,” “Big Deal,” “I Need You,” “Can’t Fight the Moonlight,” “Nothin’ ‘bout Love Makes Sense,” “Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way” and “Something’s Gotta Give.” She also had the duet hit with Elton John, “Written in the Stars” (from the musical, Aida).
Here’s a sampler of songs from LeAnn Rimes’ new album,
Rimes has also had six albums that were certified multi-platinum, platinum or gold: Blue, You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs, Sittin’ on Top of the World, LeAnn Rimes, Twisted Angel and This Woman.
Here’s our interview with LeAnn Rimes:
DK: It’s been about four years since the release of your last studio album, Remnants. Can you talk about the past four years for you, leading up to your new album, god’s work?
LeAnn Rimes: I’m not sure where to even begin. It all seems like a blur. Do any of us even remember the last 2 1/2 years, lol?! There has been a lot of change since Remnants…emotionally, spiritually, professionally.
I’ve really stepped into a deeper level of authenticity as an artist, truly utilizing all of the facets of my voice. I’m exploring lots of new territory in all areas of my life and of course, that exploration seeps into my music. I think that’s what you really get a glimpse into on this new album, my expansion.
DK: You wrote the songs on your new album with Darrell Brown. What’s your songwriting process, and what makes you and Darrell such a good team?
Rimes: Darrell allows me to share my truth without judgement or shame and supports whatever comes through me, creatively. He isn’t afraid and that’s what I love so much about him. He pushes my edges and encourages my growth. I hope everyone is so lucky to have a Darrell in their life!
As far as our writing process goes, it’s like therapy, honestly. Most everything we write comes out of conversation. We will both come in with titles and ideas, maybe a melody here or there, but it usually starts with a title. We truly are magic together, if i may say so myself. We pick up where the other leaves off. It’s a once in a lifetime connection.
DK: For your new album, there are contributions from such varied artists as Ziggy Marley, Ledisi, Ben Harper, Sheila E. and Mickey Guyton. How did you decide to collaborate with these artists?
Here’s the audio of LeAnn Rimes’ new song, “awakening.”
Rimes: I’m so honored to be joined by such an eclectic group of souls for this record. The album really speaks to community and I feel like having so many wonderful humans join me on this record truly reflects the message. After we wrote each song, we basically cast it as if we were casting a film. Everyone I asked to collaborate said “yes,” which I was over the moon about. Each artist has such a unique vibe and voice and really bring their own magic to each track. I’m really just a big fan that had good connections!
DK: I like your new song, “awakening.” What inspired you to write this song?
Rimes: We had a collection of titles written down on a dry erase board that we would sit in front of and see what jumped out at us that day. My longtime friend and collaborator, Darrell Brown and I were writing “the only,” actually and I went to the front door of our house to pick up a UPS package and suddenly, I had this melody come to me, so we stopped writing “the only” and started “awakening.” I wanted to express the highs and lows of the healing journey, of coming home to our wholeness, our inner voice. The dramatics of the track do just that. This song truly takes you on a journey, a ride… like life and the voyage of the soul in this human body.
DK: I also like your duet song with Aloe Blacc, “i do.” How did you connect with Aloe for this song?
Rimes: Aloe and I have collaborated before on one of my holiday records. He’s an incredible human and so talented. He called and asked if I would join him on a duet version of “i do.” He said he had always heard it as a duet and thought of me. It’s a beautiful song. I love collaborating with him.
DK: Besides the songs we’ve discussed, what are your favorite songs on your new album?
Rimes: It’s incredibly challenging to pick a few. I really am in love with the whole record. But, if i have to, I’d say I find myself listening to “the wild,” “awakening” and “spaceship” over and over again. Those seem to speak to my emotional landscape and where I’m currently at on my own journey, these days.
Here’s the lyric video of LeAnn Rimes’ new song, “the only.”
DK: I want to ask you about the early years of your career. What was it like, to have great success as a teenager with your album, Blue?
Rimes: It was wild! No one can prepare an adult for that kind of skyrocket to success and fame, much less a child and her family. I don’t have many memories of that time in my life, only through photos. It’s was such a blur… and it was incredible too!
DK: Thank you LeAnn for doing this interview. Is there anything that we haven’t talked about yet, that you’d like to mention for this article?
Rimes: Thank you for this conversation. I just really hope people enjoy god’s work and find themselves within it.