Brantley Gilbert Surprises With New Album, Releases ‘Heaven By Then’ With Blake Shelton and Featuring Vince Gill
Brantley Gilbert’s just-released sixth studio album is jam-packed with a star-studded group of writers and collaborators. His project titled, So Help…
Brantley Gilbert; Photo by Alexa Campbell
Brantley Gilbert’s just-released sixth studio album is jam-packed with a star-studded group of writers and collaborators.
His project titled, So Help Me God, serves as his first full-length collection since his 2019 album, Fire & Brimstone. In between these releases, Gilbert used the time to drop individual songs while also curating the list of 10 tracks to include in this new set of music that fulfills his high standards.
“We wanted to put songs that sounded good together, but also songs that covered a wide variety of genre influences,” Gilbert shared. “There’s a lot of different songwriting styles on the album. We’re super excited about it, and I can’t wait for BG Nation to hear what we’ve been working on.”
Fans already got a taste of this upcoming album through his previously released songs including, “The Worst Country Song of All Time” featuring Toby Keith and HARDY, “Gone But Not Forgotten,” “How To Talk To Girls,” “Rolex® On A Redneck” featuring Jason Aldean and “Son Of The Dirty South” featuring Jelly Roll.
“It kind of turned into one of those things where we were trying a couple different things, you know, we were releasing a song for this reason or that reason, and we ended up with several songs released before this album’s coming out,” he told Country Now and other outlets.
Gilbert has also announced that his next single will be the highly-requested “Heaven By Then,” featuring Blake Shelton and harmonies from Vince Gill. The country star explained that getting to work with both of these artists who have had such a huge impact on the music industry was a “pinch-me moment.”
“’Heaven By Then’ is extremely special to me because it’s more country than anything we’ve done in a while. It’s probably, it’s definitely probably the most country thing on that record,” he explained.
The song came together in the middle of the night during a writer’s retreat in Texas with Brock Berryhill, Michael Hardy, Jake Mitchell, Randy Montana, Hunter Phelps and Taylor Phillips. Once he and Shelton had their recordings done, they knew they just needed someone who could fill in the high harmonies. They took both the message behind the song, and how the first set of recordings sounded into consideration and ultimately came to the decision that Gill would be the right person for the job.
“Of course, he murdered it cause he murders everything,” Gilbert said of the Country Music Hall of Famer.
“I’ll forever be thankful for those guys taking a chance,” he added. “Cause every time you get on a song with somebody, you really are putting some faith in him. And to me it’s humbling and it’s an honor because they’re kind of trusting me, knowing that, ‘Hey, man, if I get on this song with you, I know you’re gonna work it,’ you know what I mean? So yeah, I’m excited to have ’em on it and humbled and honored about opportunity.”
Gilbert has had the chance to play each of these five releases live, but the remaining tracks stayed under tight wraps until the full project was released.
“So the five that we have not released, we’ve kept pretty close to our chest and kind of quiet. But I’m probably most excited about those five, you know, cause we don’t know what that feedback is yet. We don’t know what that looks like live. So that’ll give us some stuff to play with.”
Among the list of new songs is the faith-filled title track, which Gilbert chose to feature as the final song on the collection, instead of its typical placement at the top.
“All of my albums that I’ve ever released have had a faith-based or spiritual title and there’s a reason for that. You know, we talk about partying, we talk about fighting, we talk about drinking, whatever, but at the end of the day, it’s important to me to be the, ‘what you see is what you get’ guy, to be authentic, be real, to be unapologetic.”
He added, “The reason this is the last song on the album, I kinda like putting title tracks last, especially on the records we’ve done in the past, cause those albums, in particular up to this one, they tell this story and they cover a chapter on my life and we cap it almost. A lot of those songs were like the narrative in a nutshell.”
December 18th will mark 11 years of sobriety for Gilbert and “Heaven By Then,” allows the singer/songwriter to reflect on that time in his life. He explained that making this lifestyle change has affected the person he is today in many ways.
“I didn’t wanna skip anything and act like that wasn’t still a huge part of my life and that, you know, getting that out of my life wasn’t as important as it is. That was part of kind of just touching base and just reminding myself as well as other people that, ‘Hey, this is a chapter of my life and this is the narrative, but I do recognize that my addiction and alcoholism stuff played a huge role in who I am now and the dad I am, and the husband that I am, and the friend I am, and the rebel that I still am.’ So it kind of just loops everything at the end. That’s what ties up all the loose ends, that’s what makes all the broken make sense.”
The project features themes of love, growth, and the cold hard truth about the Georgia native’s own life as a husband to his wife, Amber and as a dad to his son Barrett Hardy-Clay Gilbert and daughter Braylen Hendrix Gilbert. Each track includes an immense amount of emotion that serves as an outlet for him to express the things that he doesn’t talk about in normal conversations.
Gilbert’s undeniable songwriting talent comes to light in each song, as he demonstrates nothing but the truth with his straightforward vocals and deep-cut melodies.
“I feel like songwriting is a true expression outside of prayer,” he shared. I” think it can be more powerful sometimes in your ears just because, you know, melodies do amazing. What you do with those melodies, you could have a great melody to a great song, but if the delivery’s not there, then it doesn’t say what it’s supposed to. Even if you say the words, if the delivery’s not there, it doesn’t mean what you want it to mean.”
Brantley Gilbert recently wrapped up his Son of the Dirty South tour with Jelly Roll. He picked things back up again this week with the launch of a co-headline a trek with rock band, Five Finger Death Punch.
Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.