It's been a good couple of years for Brantley Gilbert.
The singer and songwriter's second album, 2010's "Halfway to Heaven," reached No. 2 on the Billboard Country Albums chart and topped the Heatseekers list. It's been certified gold and spawned a pair of No. 1 singles, "Country Must Be Country Wide" and "You Don't Know Here Like I Do." And on top of that, Gilbert co-wrote a pair of hits for Jason Aldean, "Dirt Road Anthem" and "My Kinda Party."
"We've exceeded numbers and expectations in every market we went through, the singles are flying up the chart -- yeah, everything is really great," says the Georgia native, who's also dating Rochester-raised actress-singer Jana Kramer (he even had Thanksgiving with her family here). And Gilbert, 27, credits much of the success with a move to the Valory Music Group, a subsidiary of the Big Machine Records empire which made him a labelmate of Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw and Reba McEntire, among others.
"They have the reputation of being the hardest-working label in town," Gilbert explains. "Our organization before was pretty strong. I was considered to be one of the hardest-working artists in the business, and we worked our tail off. So hooking up with Big Machine was a pretty good match. They just like a rocket under our butt, and away we went."
Now Gilbert wants to maintain the ride. A new single from Halfway To Heaven," "More Than Miles," is rolling, and another is being considered. Meanwhile, Gilbert is headed into the studio in January with producer Dann [cq] Huff to start work on his third album, digging through about 35 potential songs and feeling the increased expectations his success has generated.
"The last one's rockin', (and) this one's going to be rockin'," Gilbert predicts. "We've got the girl songs in there, too, of course, the softer side. But it's pretty intense.
"Y'know, (2009's) 'Modern Day Prodigal Son' was a themed album; it told a story, that chapter of my life. 'Halfway To Heaven' picked up where that left off, and this one is going to cover the next chapter of my life. We're excited about it, and just excited to play some new songs. We've been playing the same ones now for quite awhile, so it'll be great to have something new."
Brantley Gilbert with Jana Kramer and Gunnar & the Grizzly Boys perform Friday, December 28, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30-$49.50. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.
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