Multi-platinum country artist Russell Dickerson is standing firm on his own turf with the release of his new self-titled album, Russell Dickerson. The Tennessee native could have tried to fit into the increasing popularity of “real country”, but said no way.
“I felt a lot of pressure, even with some of my closest co-writers who said. ‘Well, you know the format right now is really country so we need to dig into that really country side’,” explained Russell said. “I’m like…No. I do have a really country side, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to have to lean all the way over here to whatever is popular right now. I still have to be Russell Dickerson.”
“There’s no boundaries that we set in place. I feel like in the past I’ve been a little more conservative on this lane or that lane. This was just like wide open. This is 15 of my favorite songs that I’ve written in the last two years since my album Southern Symphony came out. Honestly, it felt like so many facets of my personality and my story and my sound was captured in these 15 songs.”
And who could argue with Dickerson’s stick-to-his-guns approach? Since coming onto the music scene, the Triple Tigers Records artist has enjoyed five platinum singles including the latest in the collection, “She Likes It,” featuring Jake Scott. Dickerson penned it with Scott and Josh Kerr.
“That song started with just the guitar riff that you hear. I was like, Yes, that’s it! Put that down. That’s the riff, that’s the chorus melody. It really jump-started quick. As we were writing, I was like…I think this could be a song we put out together. How do we make this not weird? It feels like we’re talking about each other. I was like…Well, she likes this and she likes that. I started talking about the little quirky things that my wife likes that I do. And then, what does [Jake Scott’s wife] Rachel like, and he starts going, ‘Oh, she loves it when I leave her little notes and make dinner reservations without her having to do it. It happened really fast honestly. Once that guitar riff was going, we were vibing. In the chorus I was like, I think it should be just this anti-hook. There’s not this big country twist of the lyric that makes your mind explode. It’s just she likes it when I uhm, uhm, uhm. We’re like, “Let’s do it!”
Here’s the video of Russell Dickerson’s hit “She Likes It”
(feat. Jake Scott).
Here’s the key lyric:
Pour tequila ’cause she knows that
We about to have ourselves a little night
When I play John Denver through that little Bose speaker
And I start dimmin’ those lights
And she knows by the way that I’m kissin’ on her
That we gon’ take our time
She likes it when I-
She likes it when I-
She likes it when I- (mmm)
“It talks about John Denver through the little speaker. My wife never jams music while she’s cooking or in the kitchen or anything. She’s just content doing her thing. After we wrote the song, we all came back to our house, and we walked in the door, and she’s literally jamming John Denver through the speakers in the kitchen. I’m like, ‘What are you doing?! You never listen to music. What is happening here? You’re not going to believe this, and we played her the song. She felt known; she felt loved.”
Remarkably, Dickerson became the first artist since Luke Combs to release four consecutive career-starting singles (“Yours,” “Blue Tacoma,” “Every Little Thing,” and “Love You Like I Used To”) that topped the Billboard Country Airplay chart. Dickerson also joins Combs as the second solo artist and fourth act overall to have four or more singles reach #1 on the Country Airplay chart.
“We had four number ones in a row and then to miss another one with “Home Sweet” honestly just opened the gates for me,” Dickerson admits. “It’s not about #1s. It’s about the music. It’s about the connection with the fans.”
While working on this latest project, Dickerson had more time during the pandemic for introspection with his songwriting. As a result, he developed more reflective and at times nostalgic material.
“I feel like I had the brain capacity to dig way, way deeper on this album to go back to those little stories of toilet papering the cute girls that we had crushes on and getting back home by the cops,” Dickerson recalls. “I got brought home by the cops three times,” he adds, laughing. “Being able to sit down and not just be like…Let’s write a great song today. What are we going to do? Okay, cool. A love song, whatever. I want to dig a little deeper. I want to go back farther, and I think that’s due honestly to having the time off that we did to really go deeper than I’ve ever gone before.”
Here’s the video of Russell Dickerson’s new song, “Blame It On Being Young.”
As a songwriter, Dickerson has seen one dramatic shift in his writing. He now takes ownership of the direction of the song.
“Even with ‘I Still Believe’ we tried for two and a half hours. We were banging our head against the wall like this big ole anthem chorus. All of a sudden, I pick up the guitar and said, “Alright, let’s reset.” (He sings part of the song) It just came out. I really have learned to dig into that, not trying to come up with a catchy chorus and just letting it flow. That’s a vulnerable thing because half the time it sounds like crap. For that instance, we came out with half a chorus right there. Just really leaning in and trusting my freestyle intuition to spit it out and not be intimidated.”
Dickerson is taking his new music to revamp his concerts. He kicks off his “She Likes It” tour this month.
“We’ve been introducing songs here and there to give them a little tease of “Just Like Your Momma,” “Blame It on Being Young.” We played “Sorry” a little bit this year. But now…they’re going to have [the album] in their hands, in their hearts, and now is our chance to revamp the whole show around this new album. That’s where I’m at in my head 90% of the time in the live show, the song order, the whole flow of the night. When you walk in the door, what’s going to be different? Even to the point of kicking off the entire show with “Blame It On Being Young,” something completely different, completely weird. Production-wise, just one spotlight instead of coming out with big explosive song. What if we do something like total curveball, just go out with a heart-string pulling song, one spotlight, maybe in the middle of the crowd. Who knows? I might fly in from the ceiling. You never know. I wish I could do that. We’ll get there.”
Bill Conger is a freelance writer for various publications including Bluegrass Unlimited, ParentLife, Homecoming, and Singing News and is currently writing a biography on The Osborne Brothers with Bobby Osborne. He can be reached at [email protected].