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There’s more to the duality of Clay Walker’s debut Show Dog Nashville album Texas To Tennessee than the title. Certainly, the realities of place are as central as this comeback album’s name implies: Nashville busily working toward the next fresh hit; Texas moving at its inimitable and familiar pace. There’s also a mix of songwriting and production approaches, evident and more nuanced relationships between the songs themselves, and the overarching presence of a naturally gifted vocalist who relentlessly pursues his own development as a singer. But don’t mistake those dualities for dichotomy – and certainly not polarity. In a storied career dotted with smash singles, platinum albums and countless honors and acclaim, maybe the connection between country’s timeless themes and music-of-the-moment timeliness has been there all along.
Many of the country fans behind the almost 20 million on-demand and video streams for his latest single “Need A Bar Sometimes” – who may also be among his 750,000 TikTok followers – are wholly unaware of Walker’s history. Discovered in a Beaumont area bar by noted producer and head of Giant Records James Stroud (Toby Keith, Tracy Lawrence, Tim McGraw, Kenny Rogers), Walker was in his early twenties when he started rattling off a string of smash hits. Among them, “Live Until I Die,” “Dreaming With My Eyes Open,” “This Woman And This Man,” “Hypnotize The Moon,” “Rumor Has It,” “Then What,” “I Can’t Sleep” and “She Won’t Be Lonely Long.” His self-titled debut album rocketed to platinum status, the first of four to cross the million-sold mark. Racking up more than 30 charted singles and 11 No. 1s wasn’t without its struggles, however.
Texas To Tennessee is also a modern album that nods at an earlier era in its time economy. Clocking in under 30 minutes in its entirety and with more than half its songs under three minutes, it recalls some of country’s historical best in terms of uncluttered writing, directness of message and finely shaved construction.
Teamwork is at the core of Walker’s battle against Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Diagnosed in 1996, he has become a passionate advocate and fundraiser for others with the disease through his Band Against MS. Among his efforts are the annual Clay Walker Charity Classic at Pebble Beach. The golf event highlights the highly active way Walker has approached MS, continuing to perform and raise a growing family while showing no signs of slowing.