The first single from Joe Nichols’ upcoming album introduces a country-rock sound he’s rarely relied on. “Freaks Like Me” is louder and edgier than most of what’s in the veteran’s catalog, but he keeps it country lyrically.

Fans will embrace his message and his ironic way of delivering it. He treads along a line that separates coy from cynicism, but never crosses it. Nichols' “Freaks” are those doing it old school.

“I always get the door for a lady / I don’t care if she’s four or if she’s 80 / I don’t need a Jag, I got a tractor / I won’t apologize for things that matter,” he sings to begin the song. Strong electric guitars and a heavy drumbeat provide the song’s style. “Freaks Like Me” is louder than what we’re used to from this mild-mannered singer.

“Freaks like me, just outside the in crowd / Freaks like me, out of style and damn proud / Raise a can, ‘cause I’m a fan / Of everyone who has turned out to be / Freaks like me,” Nichols sings at the chorus.

The second verse is the strongest. It’s here his fans will truly line up behind him. “Yeah, I can’t seem to smell or tell the difference / Between a pile of bull or a pile of politicians,” he says. “Give me old folks and old boots / And deep fried and deep roots and / Six packs and six strings and two dollar blue jeans.”

Monty Criswell, Josh Thompson and Lynn Hutton penned "Freaks Like Me" and while they rely on a few oft-used country music symbols late in the song their message remains sincere and original. Nichols has been a breezy hitmaker over the last half-decade. Before that he was a troubled balladeer. The country-rocker label fits him just as well.

Why Fans Will Love It: Nichols hammers home a traditional message while bridging new ground on "Freaks Like Me."

Key Lyrics: "Raise a hand, ‘cause I’m a fan / Of everyone who has turned out to be / Freaks like me."

Did You Know?: Next year will be Nichols' 20th in country music. He released his self-titled debut in 1996, at the age of 19.

Listen to Joe Nichols, “Freaks Like Me”

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