Album Spotlight: Thomas Rhett, ‘Life Changes’
Thomas Rhett's Life Changes album finds the singer paying homage to his own catalog and his many influences. So many of the 14 songs recall someone specific, be it his wife, his father or some other famous singer from generations past.
Rhett is all-in on appealing to his increasingly younger, female audience. "Smooth Like the Summer" and "Leave Right Now" are two that push the boundaries of country music further than any artist not named Sam Hunt or Keith Urban is willing. When the latter becomes a big, anthemic, Chainsmokers-inspired pop-rock song it's shocking because he started with such delicate acoustic guitar chords.
"Sweetheart" recalls the Sam Cooke groove Rhett found on "Crash and Burn." "Kiss Me Like a Stranger" could surely be a song Barry White passed on once upon a time — if Rhett sounded like Trace Adkins we'd need another state to hold all the babies born in 2018. "Renegades" sounds inspired by Bryan Adams. "Drink a Little Beer" is a Rhett Akins song more than a Thomas Rhett song, but on Life Changes it's a necessary change of pace.
The autobiographical selections ("Sixteen" and "Life Changes") are the signature songs, but others like "When You Look Like That" and "Unforgettable" also feel Lauren-inspired. The title track doesn't pretend to be anything but a recap of his last 10 years. This adorable, California-rock (Sublime?) country song name-checks Rhett's biggest hit and his two daughters. Kudos to whoever thought of the "Mama" and "Uganda" rhyme in that third verse!
Rhett's Life Changes is more of a collection than a statement, but it's packed with clever lyrics and undeniable hooks. The thread that ties everything together is the youthful production and overwhelming sense of fun, except for "Marry Me," which is liable to leave you weeping.
Key Tracks: "Unforgettable," "Drink a Little Beer," "Sweetheart," "Life Changes"
Rhett revealed that his third studio album would be titled Life Changes on July 27, 2017. That's also the title of one of the songs, which was inspired by the enormous changes he's seen in his life over the past few years — especially he and wife Lauren welcoming their adopted daughter Willa Grace.
“It’s kind of about my daughter and it’s kinda about a lot of things,” Rhett tells Taste of Country. “Basically it goes from me being in college to me being here now and how drastically my life has changed in the last five or six years. And Willa being a huge part of that.”
Rhett has also shared the cover of Life Changes (above), which depicts him dressed simply in a gray shirt with hood and a jeans jacket with his name and the title of the album in stylized lettering.
The Record Label
Rhett's Life Changes comes via Valory Music Group, the Big Machine Label Group imprint that has released both of his previous albums.
Rhett worked with Dann Huff and Jesse Frasure to co-produce Life Changes.
Rhett released "Craving You," a duet with Maren Morris, as the first single from Life Changes in March, and Morris joined him to perform the song live on the ACM Awards on April 2. "Craving You" reached No. 1 in June, and on July 21 he announced "Unforgettable" as the second single from the album.
The Track Listing and Songwriters
The tracks for Life Changes include two duets, an EDM track, an appearance from Rhett's dad, '90s hit maker Rhett Akins, and more surprises. The album features two collaborations with “Die a Happy Man” co-writers Sean Douglas and Joe Spargur called “Sweetheart” and “Sixteen," and tracks from a Who's Who of the top songwriters in contemporary country music.
Thomas Rhett, Life Changes Track Listing:
1. “Craving You” (feat. Maren Morris) (written by Dave Barnes, Julian Bunetta)
2. “Unforgettable” (written by Thomas Rhett, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley, Shane McAnally)
3. “Sixteen” (written by Thomas Rhett, Sean Douglas, Joe Spargur)
4. “Drink a Little Beer” (feat. Rhett Akins) (written by Rhett Akins, Jesse Frasure, Ben Hayslip)
5. “Marry Me” (written by Thomas Rhett, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley, Shane McAnally)
6. “Leave Right Now” (written by Thomas Rhett, Julian Bunetta, Edward Drewett, John Henry Ryan)
7. “Smooth Like the Summer” (written by Thomas Rhett, Jesse Frasure, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne)
8. “Life Changes” (written by Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley)
9. “When You Look Like That” (written by Jessi Alexander, Matt Dragstrem, David Lee Murphy)
10. “Sweetheart” (written by Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins, Sean Douglas, Joe Spargur)
11. “Kiss Me Like a Stranger” (written by Thomas Rhett, Dave Barnes, Jordan Reynolds)
12. “Renegades” (written by Thomas Rhett, Julian Bunetta, John Henry Ryan)
13. “Gateway Love” (written by Thomas Rhett, Sean Douglas, Sam Ellis, Emily Weisband)
14. “Grave” (written by Chris DeStefano, Hillary Lindsey, Josh Miller)
Thomas Rhett and Wife Lauren Show Off Bump at the ACM Awards