ERNEST Talks Inspiration Behind ‘NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE’ And Shares His Mission To Show Love To Songwriters And Songs [Exclusive]

ERNEST’s 26-track project shines a light on the backbone of Music City – songs and songwriters.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

May 2, 2024


12:53 pm

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ERNEST; Photo by Live In The Vineyard. JETBLACK, Ryan Waneka

Country music is very much alive and well, and ERNEST makes sure to celebrate that on his just-released sophomore album, NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

The Mission of the Project

The project not only honors his hometown through 26 truly authentic deep-rooted tracks, but he also pays tribute to the brilliant songwriters who play a vital role in maintaining the traditional sound that so many country fans grew up on.


“My mission for this album is to just direct all the love and attention to the songwriters and songs,” ERNEST told us during his recent appearance at Live in the Vineyard Goes Country. “The music industry wouldn’t exist without songwriters writing songs, and the power of a song that can stand the test of time.”

He proves his statement numerous times throughout the project, prominently with the track “Would If I Could,” which was originally written in 1996 by award-winning songwriters Skip Ewing and Dean Dillon and remains a timeless song despite never being officially cut.

ERNEST; Photo by Live In The Vineyard. JETBLACK, Ryan Waneka
ERNEST; Photo by Live In The Vineyard. JETBLACK, Ryan Waneka

The Collaborations Were Not Forced In Any Way

The Big Loud recording artist’s delivery of “What If I Could” features Lainey Wilson, who previously recorded her own rendition of the tune for Apple Music’s 2023 Lost and Found program. This collaboration serves as one of five songs on the NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE album that find ERNEST singing alongside his fellow hitmakers as in addition to Wilson, Jelly RollLukas NelsonMorgan Wallen, and HARDY are also featured throughout the collection.

The chart-topping singer/songwriter told us that the collaborations all came about organically, which makes them all the more special.

“They all fell in place. None of them were forced, there wasn’t a team putting the collaborations together, it was just text messages,” ERNEST revealed.

“Life Goes On”

When recording the album, the Tennessee native had the task of cutting down the track list from 32 songs to 26. While it was a difficult undertaking, ERNEST is proud of the selections he made. One particular song that resonates with him is “Life Goes On,” which sits right above the reflective love song, “If You Don’t Know By Now,” and right under “Twinkle Twinkle,” the adorable live recording of his son, Ryman singing the famous nursery rhyme during his set at Fenway Park.

“It’s one of my favorite songs. It isn’t the most traditional sounding country song, but it’s a good message and good listening,” the 2X CMA Triple Play Award winner shared “of the tune “Life Goes On”, which he penned with Ashley Gorley, Hoskins, and Ryan Vojtesak.

YouTube video

Already Brainstorming Another Project

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE is the follow-up to ERNEST’s 2021 debut album, FLOWER SHOPS (THE ALBUM), which spawned the 2X Platinum title track “Flower Shops (feat. Morgan Wallen).”

Looking ahead, the singer/songwriter revealed that he has even more plans to try and capture the timeless sounds he heard growing up and revitalize that beloved era of the genre in his own way.  

“I would love to put out a little project where I go and cut just me on acoustic, a fiddle player, a steel guitar player, and a standup bass in RCA studios and do it on a ribbon mic and make it sound super period correct ‘50s and ‘60s.”

He added, “I have a bunch of those types of songs I’ve written and I’ve cut some old standards. That’ll happen.”

Fans can next catch the ACM nominee in West Palm Beach, FL on May 3 as an opening act on the Brooks & Dunn Reboot 2024 Tour. 

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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.