Chris Janson’s ‘All In’ Album Is All About Joy, in All its Forms
In a way, Chris Janson's new album, All In, and its title track are continuations of a theme he set up with "Done," a hit single off of his last album, Real Friends.
For one thing, both titles came from thoughts he had when he first met his wife, Kelly. "It's the truest picture of my love story with Kelly, ever," the singer tells Taste of Country. "At the time I met her, I said two things. I said, 'Done and done,' which is where [the song] 'Done' came from, and I said, 'I'm all in on this one. I wanna be a stepdad to two great bonus kids. I'm all in with you.' I was, and I am, and I will always be."
Then there's "All In," which is "100 percent my story....gosh, I love that song," Janson asserts, adding that "version two" of "Done" is a fair description of the song — but there are some key differences between them, too. "Done" is a promise to be the kind of husband and father that his love interest deserves; "All In" is a celebration of how good it feels to live out that promise. Where "Done" is somber and sincere, "All In" is joyful.
"Yeah I was all in, no it didn't take three weeks / 'Fore I was fallin', I was down there on my knee," Janson sings in the chorus. "And I was callin' everybody that we knew / Going on and on about you, couldn't wait to say I do / I was all in."
Joy — in one form or another — is present everywhere in All In. Whether it's romantic joy in the title track, the joy of plunging into hard-rocking '90s country in "Things You Can't Live Without," a Travis Tritt duet, or the joy of collaborating with a long-held hero, Eric Church, on not one but two songs — the music on this collection is a celebration. Even "Bye Mom," a tearjerker inspired by the death of a co-writer's mother, is a potent conduit for the life-changing magic of having a family full of love.
"[Every album-making process] has been great. But with this one, it's just been extra special, and I don't know why," Janson reflects. "Maybe it's because we were all in the pandemic for the last two years and nobody saw each other. Man, everybody's so excited."
The singer adds that he was "a little more hands on" with the production of All In than he's been in the past — though he co-produced Real Friends, too — and that increase in involvement made a difference.
"When you're really hands on with it, I've noticed for myself personally, I'm 10 times more excited about it than I ever was," he reflects. "It was really fantastic."
As he immersed himself in the camaraderie of All In, Janson started finding collaborators in even more unexpected places. He suspected that releasing "Bye Mom" would engage fans on an emotional level, for example, but he never expected that emotion to translate into real-life action.
"I'll tell you where [the song] took a big foothold, which I did not see coming, was in the military," he relates. "With military moms and military families. If you just go to play the words 'Bye Mom,' it doesn't have to be about somebody passing away, necessarily. I mean, [there are] mothers leaving for long amounts of time serving our country, and families that are split apart because of that. It's a great service, a very honorable thing, but also there's a 'Bye Mom' aspect."
So Janson leveraged "Bye Mom" to participate in a register roundup initiative at Bass Pro Shops stores, a brand he's long partnered with, in November 2021. "We were able to give military families, specifically geared towards mothers in the military — we were able to give $300,000 on behalf of 'Bye Mom,'" Janson says.
"That was just a random occurrence that fell into our laps, a natural thing," he continues. "That just goes to show how the song can affect people, even sometimes in ways that you would least expect."
All In arrives on Friday (April 29.)