Chris Young is just now beginning his second decade in country music, and in that time he has been one of the steadiest climbers on the scene. Each of his five previous studio albums kicked out multiple top 5 singles and Young has gradually scaled the ladder as a touring artist, going from small venues to opening slots for some of country’s biggest stars, most recently Jason Aldean last summer.

Now comes 2018, and Young, with his new album, “Losing Sleep,” gaining momentum, is beginning the year with a headlining tour that takes him to arenas and amphitheaters. To say he’s excited about this latest step up with his career would be an understatement.

“I’m really, really pumped about this tour and this record,” Young said in a recent phone interview. “You’re obviously excited any time you can make new music and make it out there and play shows. But to be able to take it to the level we’re taking it this year and play a bunch of arenas that I’ve opened for (other acts) a lot of times in my career and some amphitheaters mixed in there as well, it’s going to be really, really special.”

Headlining arenas means Young will take out a good deal of visual production and will have control over every aspect of his show, as well as the responsibility to deliver the kind of entertaining and professional performance that’s expected of a major headliner.

Young should be up to the challenge. He’s opened for a host of country headliners and been able to get advice and learn from watching them perform. He also has an extensive catalog of songs and enough hits to fill a good part of his set with hit singles. Combine those selections with new material and perhaps a few deeper cuts, and Young should be able to deliver a well-rounded set for fans.

“I’m definitely not playing too many new songs,” Young said of his set list. “You don’t want to inundate people with a whole bunch of new music, but there’s going to be some cool stuff that people have never seen from me before. That’s part of what you want to do with every new tour is being able to do something that even people who have seen you in the past couple of years, that they see something they’ve never seen out of you. We’re definitely going to give them that.”

One new song figures to be the title track from “Losing Sleep,” which after a slight pause climbed to No. 1 on “Billboard” magazine’s Country Airplay chart and No. 7 on the Hot Country Songs charts. The song adds another accomplishment to a career that has had its share of highlights.

Young first came into the national spotlight when he won the 2006 season of “Nashville Star” on the USA Network. Signed by RCA His 2006 self-titled debut album stiffed, but “Getting’ You Home (The Black Dress Song),” the second single from his sophomore album, 2009’s “The Man I Want To Be,” became a chart-topping breakthrough hit. Then the title song from that album and a third single, “Voices,” extended the streak of number one singles to three.

The Murfreesboro, Tennessee native has been on a roll since. His next two albums, “Neon” (2010) and “A.M.” (2013) added three more number ones to Young’s resume and “I’m Comin’ Over” took things to a new level with three more chart-toppers – the title track, “Think Of You” (a duet with Cassadee Pope), and “Sober Saturday Night.”

Going into the “Losing Sleep” project, Young, as he did with “I’m Comin’ Over,” teamed up with songwriter Corey Crowder to co-produce the new album. Stepping into the production role allowed Young once again to be involved in the project from the songwriting stage right through to the final mixes and mastering and gave him a comfort level and sense of confidence in trying to live up the popular “I’m Comin’ Over” album.

“Some people would be like ‘Hey, was there any pressure to replicate that?’ I would argue that it was the other way around,” Young said. “The pressure was off. We knew we could. It was really just getting in there and having fun, making an album that I love and it’s been cool seeing other people love it, too.”

In “Losing Sleep,” Young made an album that’s in character with his earlier releases, with a nice blend of traditional country and pop influences and a good balance between uptempo tunes (the song “Losing Sleep”), full-bodied mid-tempo songs (“Hangin’ On” and “Radio and the Rain”) and ballads (“Blacked Out” and “Where I Go When I Drink”).

“There’s a lot of range on this album, there really is,” Young said.  “‘Blacked Out’ is very stripped. ‘Where I Go When I Drink’ is very traditional leaning. ‘Losing Sleep’ is probably the most pop leaning track that I’ve ever done. Obviously with my vocal on everything, it’s going to be a country song, but it was fun for me to kind of play around a little bit with some of those production things.”

Along with finishing and releasing “Losing Sleep,” another highlight of 2017 for Young was getting inducted into the Grand Ol’ Opry this past August. As an artist who is well versed on country music’s history, being an Opry member holds a special place for Young.

“It’s a huge thing and definitely one of those things you look at and I’m like ‘Holy crap, this is a bucket list thing for me’ and not just one thing for the next four or five years for me to get done as an artist, but something that is a life-long goal for a lot of people, and definitely for me,” Young said. “So it’s an incredible thing. I’m so, so honored that it was Vince Gill that asked me to join and Brad Paisley who did the induction. I’m just incredibly lucky.”

If the Opry performance was a high point of 2017 for Young, he also shared in the worst moment of the year in country music when he went to Las Vegas, Nevada for the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival. That night, during Aldean’s headlining set, Stephen Paddock, opened on the crowd of 22,200 from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, killing 58 people and wounding more than 500 – the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

“Obviously, it was a very scary night in my life, the scariest night of my life, not anything you should ever have to experience at a concert,” Young said. “That’s supposed to be a safe place. I was actually just down there to see Jason and Kane (Brown). I was not playing that night. I flew in just to hang out with those guys. And it was just a really, really scary thing.” The experience has made Young more attuned than ever with concert safety.

“I had a show, I think, four days later in California,” Young said, looking back on the immediate aftermath of the shooting. “And I debated do we play? Do we not play? What’s the right thing to do? I’ve said it a lot in interviews since then, but music is a thing that, it’s a thing that can heal. So I got back up on stage and played and have continued to play.

“It’s something that the security for the rest of the year and probably the rest of my life is going to be something where there’s a pretty heavy emphasis on going forward,” he said.




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