Randy Houser's friends call him Cadillac.
"It has to do with being relaxed and laid back. I guess I'm comfortable in my own skin, and when you think about Cadillacs, that's what they are - big and comfortable," he said.
Proving just how laid back he is, he's calling from his bed in his Nashville home, just waking up after a late-night flight from New York, where he appeared on "Good Morning America" to promote his new album, "They Call Me Cadillac."
"Flying in last night, the new tour [with Gary Allan], it's all been crazy," he said, interrupting himself with a yawn. "With the album release, I couldn't sleep because of the anticipation. Last night was the first good night's sleep I've had, but I could still pass out right now."
"Cadillac" is Houser's second album, a crucial point in an artist's career. To get to a second album, an musician usually had enough success with his debut to justify the label's investment in a sophomore album. Build on that success, you can take your career to the next level. Fill an album with blanks, and you might never be heard from again. But when you're called Cadillac, you don't spend a lot of time stressing about such things.
"I am worried what people are going to think about it, but it doesn't matter to me whether it's a huge commercial success. I didn't make it for that, I made it for me," he said. "I wanted to be proud of it. If it sells 100 or 100 million copies, it doesn't matter. A lot of artists can be made or broken by their sophomore album. I can make albums in my bedroom. I make records because I love to do it."
Houser has a good career foundation to build upon. His debut album, "Anything Goes," contained "Boots On." The song's video catapulted the single to No. 2 on the charts and earned him Video of the Year nominations from the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music. He also was nominated for the CMA's New Artist of the Year.
He'll try to capitalize on that momentum with "Cadillac," an album filled with songs about the country, lyrics inspired by his experiences in his hometown of Lake, Miss.
"It's 412 people and one flashing light. Everyone knows everyone - what they've done and probably what they're going to do. It pretty much all hinges on what the football team does on Friday night."
The album also contains references to his father, a musician who died when Houser was 21. After not seeing him for several years, his dad called him from Denver to tell him he was dying. Randy spent his final days with him, then moved to Nashville shortly after his death.
"His death had a lot to do with it. I watched him never take that next step. He settled for where he was. Seeing that pushed me to the next level," Houser said.
After landing in Nashville, one of the first songs he wrote was "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," a cut he co-wrote with Jamey Johnson and Dallas Davidson that became a big hit for Trace Adkins. Houser jokes that the single "did a lot for my pocketbook," but more importantly it got him noticed and helped pave the way for his recording career.
Every song on Houser's new album was written by him, and he's excited about being on the new tour with prolific writers Gary Allan and Jerrod Niemann. The show "I think it's a hell of a show. The reason I wanted to do this is because it's not a bunch of karaoke singers. It's people who have lived and have something to say."
Contact Brian Dugger at firstname.lastname@example.org.