Charles Esten Plots Release Date For Debut Album, ‘Love Ain’t Pretty’

To celebrate the announcement, Esten released “Down The Road,” a collaboration with Eric Paslay.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

August 14, 2023


8:56 am

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Charles Esten; Photo by Kirsten Balani

Charles Esten is preparing to open up to fans on a whole new level with stories of love, hope, and a lifetime of growth that will be showcased on his independent debut album, Love Ain’t Pretty. Announcing the new project via social media, the singer/songwriter/actor revealed that the collection is set to drop on January 26, 2024.

To celebrate the news, the singer/songwriter also unveiled his first-and-only collaboration in the collection. “Down The Road,” featuring Eric Paslay delivers a rush of adrenaline as Esten puts his country rock sound on display in full force to carry out the never-give-up theme.

“This is a song of hope… and one of my favorites from the album,” Esten shared on Instagram. 

Charles Esten; Photo by Kirsten Balani
Charles Esten; Photo by Kirsten Balani

Co-written by Esten with Dylan Altman and Eric Paslay, the new tune blasts supreme confidence amid the epic guitar solos, pulsing drumbeats, and uplifting narrative. The pair of artists find themselves taking turns on the encouraging lines that beg the listener to chase their dreams, no matter what comes. 

“Don’t give up baby don’t let go / You got a hand too good to fold / The story ain’t over it’s yet to be told / Hold on cause you don’t know / What’s waitin’ for you down the road / What’s waitin’ for you down the road,” he delivers on the chorus. 


YouTube video

In addition to “Down The Road,” the 14-track collection will feature previous releases including “One Good Move,” “A Little Right Now,” and his latest drop, “In A Bar Somewhere.”

As the third release from the album, “In A Bar Somewhere” offers a haunting message of lost love through Esten’s deep vocals that illustrate a deep pain and desire to return to the once-perfect days in a beach town.

Co-written by Esten with Neil Medley and Jason Gantt, the song came to life on Zoom while the talented actor was on-location in Barbados for Netflix’s global hit, Outer Banks, in 2021. 

“In a bar somewhere / We’re still drinking and laughing / Not thinkin’ bout what’s gonna happen / We’re still dancing right there / In a bar somewhere / Your head still on my shoulder / We’re still us it ain’t over / Oh naw we ain’t over / We’re still, we’re still / In a bar somewhere,” Charles Esten delivers on the chorus.

YouTube video

Love Ain’t Pretty is more than 10 years in the making as it chronicles Esten’s lifetime of creative achievement that began when he first arrived in Music City to play “Deacon Claybourne” on ABC/CMT’s Nashville. Since then, he has taken on new roles and dug deeper into his passion for music to unearth a career that, as the title suggests, has been a beautiful ride with plenty of not-so-pretty moments along the way. 

Esten served as a co-writer on each of the 14 songs alongside hitmakers like Jon Nite, Eric Paslay, Gary Burr, Leslie Satcher, and more. According to a recent press release, the vividly detailed and emotionally charged project celebrates Esten as a storyteller both on screen and off screen as he explores life, love, and the passing of time through the lens of a traveled and tested everyman. Meanwhile, he teamed with producer Marshall Altman to create a serene and beautifully contoured sound that intertwines the adrenaline of Country Rock with a gritty small-town charm. 

Charles Esten recently made his 163rd appearance on the Grand Ole Opry stage to showcase his new tune, “Down The Road.”

To celebrate the announcement, the singer/songwriter/actor hosted the “WARDJAMMER III” at The Windjammer in Isle of Palms, SC, on Saturday, August 12. Launched in 2021 in honor of his most recent role as “Ward Cameron” in Netflix’s Outer Banks, the headlining event showcased new music.

Then in the fall, Charles Esten returns to the stage with select Nashville cast members for “NASHVILLE” The Reunion Tour. This trek kicks off October 11 and includes dates throughout the U.S. and U.K. with appearances by Clare Bowen, Johnathan Jackson and Sam Palladio.

Charles Esten - Love Ain't Pretty
Charles Esten – Love Ain’t Pretty


1. “Love Ain’t Pretty(Charles Esten, Marshall Altman, Jimmy Yeary)
2. “A Little Right Now(Charles Esten, Jacob Lyda, Brian Maher)               
3. “One Good Move(Charles Esten, Sam Backoff, Zarni deVette, Elise Hayes) 
4. “In A Bar Somewhere(Charles Esten, Jason Gantt, Neil Medley)                              
5. “I Ain’t(Charles Esten, Brad Crisler, James LeBlanc)
6. “Another Song About You(Charles Esten, Colin Elmore) 
7. “When Love Ain’t Love (Charles Esten, Jeffrey East)
8. “Candlelight(Charles Esten, Kenny Alphin, Eric Paslay)
9. “Back In My Life Again(Charles Esten, Marcus Hummon, Bryan Todd)
10. “Make You Happy(Charles Esten, Gary Burr, Jon D’Agostino) 
11. “Willing To Try(Charles Esten, Gary Burr)
12. “Maybe I’m Alright(Charles Esten, Leslie Satcher)
13. “Down The Road (feat. Eric Paslay)(Charles Esten, Eric Paslay, Dylan Altman) 
14. “Somewhere In The Sunshine(Charles Esten, Jon Nite)

All Songs Produced by Marshall Altman

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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.