Brett Young

. January 14, 2020.
Photo Credit: Riker Brothers
Photo Credit: Riker Brothers

Country star brings “Chapters” tour to Toledo

Country artist Brett Young didn’t ignore the prospect of facing a sophomore slump. In fact, well before his 2017 self-titled debut album had ended its run, with four No. 1 singles along the way, Young was already facing the challenge of a follow-up album head-on.

“I was so scared of that sophomore slump that everybody talks about. I was scared of it the moment we put (the debut) album out because I knew we had a great record,” Young said. “It was such a great feeling to know that (the debut) record was solid all the way through. And the second I realized that I thought, ‘how do I follow this up?’”

Back to work

His answer was to get to work, bringing out a variety of Nashville-based songwriters for sessions as he was on tour in summer and fall 2017 opening for Lady Antebellum. “I wrote almost all of my second record (the newly-released Ticket To L.A.) during that Lady Antebellum tour because I was so scared to not have the songs for album two,” he said, noting he ended up with a pool of about 500 songs.

Young is starting off 2020 with his “Chapters” headlining tour, which will have him on the road through February before he does more dates in March and April. “Here Tonight,” the first single from Ticket To L.A., has topped Billboard magazine’s Country Airplay chart to become his fifth chart-topping single.

From pitching balls to tunes

It’s been a meteoric rise for Young, whose music career started when during college his hopes for a career as a baseball pitcher ended with an elbow injury. With new-found free time on his hands, Young started going to concerts, including three shows by the Dave Matthews Band at California’s Concord Pavilion.

“On the drive back to Fresno, I popped in the Gavin DeGraw CD, the first one, Chariot,” Young recalled. “And I thought, OK I’ve been loving music pretty hard this weekend, and now this record is making me love songwriting. I think I need to write songs.”

“Four months later, I got into a second bedroom home studio with a friend from high school’s husband and we recorded the first six songs I ever wrote,” he said. “I sang the vocals in a coat closet with a blanket over my head on a rented microphone. And I was hooked.”

Playing covers in LA

Young spent a decade playing covers in Los Angeles area bars and restaurants, writing songs in his free time and releasing a pair of EPs and three albums he released independently, hoping to get a record deal. But his break didn’t come.

“I made a living from playing music for 10 years in L.A., but I never got one meeting with a label,” Young said. Realizing that the songs he had been writing fit the country genre, Young moved to Nashville, where he quickly made contacts and within nine months got a deal with Big Machine Records.

The debut album is filled with agreeable acoustic-centric mid-tempo tunes and ballads, many of which were inspired by Young’s breakup with a longtime girlfriend. But by the time Young was set to make Ticket To L.A., they had reunited, and in November 2018, they got married.

Young was in a very different headspace when he made the second album, and the result is an album that retains the pop-tinged, acoustic-centric sound of the debut, but is considerably more upbeat. The brighter and more energetic feel of the new songs also comes through in Young’s live show.

“The show itself has a lot more energy,” Young said. “The first record was kind of sleepy, and that was intentional because that’s my heart. I like to write ballads. But I think now with the second record having a little more fire to it, the goal is to have a little bit more energy and tempo, and I think we’ve been doing that.”

Brett Young will perform at the Stranahan Theater at 8pm on Friday, January 31.
Ticket prices begin at $27.50.
For more information, call 419-381-8851
or visit stranahantheater.com.