Larry Fleet crossed my musical plate back in November 2019 thanks to an endorsement from Jon Pardi. When I beckoned Jon to give me a musical recommendation at the 2019 CMA Awards, he told me to check out Fleet’s new EP, Workin’ Hard.
In fact, Pardi’s rec wasn’t fleeting, excuse the pun. Since that time, Larry has opened shows for Pardi (with more upcoming dates together, as well as with Jamey Johnson and Kip Moore).
Larry will drop his new 14-song album, Stack of Records, on September 24. The Tennessee native released the album’s lead single, “Where I Find God,” in April 2020. The touching tune has already amassed 32 million streams, with the video garnering 18 million views on YouTube. In addition, Stack of Records features a couple of collaborations with the aforementioned Pardi (“In Love With My Problems”) and Johnson (“Highway Feet”).
After getting a sneak preview of the upcoming album, Outsider caught up with Larry to ask him 5 Questions about the new project.
1. Where did your gospel and bluegrass roots come from?
Larry Fleet: Luckily, that’s what I started playing was bluegrass, like gospel-bluegrass. They kind of go hand in hand, but when I was a kid, five or six years old, bluegrass was the first thing I learned how to play. And it was my great uncle, Uncle Jim. He could play anything with strings on it. And he learned by ear. He listened to a song and learned how to play it. And so, he taught himself, and then he kind of taught me a few things.
I learned bluegrass early on, because now that I know, I mean, bluegrass is one of the hardest things to play. It’s not an easy genre of music to start in. If you can learn how to play bluegrass, you can probably play anything you want. And that’s kind of where I started.
So yes, my roots are there, and I still love bluegrass. People say all the time, “What do you call your music?” I say it’s country-western-bluegrass-soul. It’s all one word. That’s pretty much what you’re getting.
2. Have your fans been sharing personal connections to ‘Where I Find God’?
Larry Fleet: One of them that sticks out, a guy hit me up and said he was in jail. And they were playing that song in the jail and he heard it and he said, “I got to change my life around.” So he gets out of jail and he hit me up and told me that on my Instagram. So I got talking with him and trying to help him, lead him in a little better direction than he had been going.
And so, it was pretty cool to kind of help change his life a little bit. And as a songwriter, when you write a song, you hope that you write something good enough that it touches people enough to change their life or make them see things a little different. That’s a huge compliment as a songwriter.
3. ‘Highway Feet’ sounds like something out of Jerry Reed’s catalog. When did you and Jamey Johnson write it?
Larry Fleet: That’s funny, because Jerry Reed’s grandson played drums on that track. Yeah, I wrote that. I had COVID and I was supposed to write with Jamey Johnson that day, and I hit him up and I said, “Hey, I got the COVID. So we need to cancel this write or whatever. We’ll do it a different day.” He goes, “Oh, well, let’s just do a Zoom.” And I thought, “What in the world? Jamey Johnson’s going to do a Zoom.” And he said, “Yeah.” So I had my Winnebago parked out by the lake, sitting there for a week while I was getting over COVID. And we got on a Zoom, and we wrote that song in like an hour.
We went in and cut it. And it turned out a lot like a Jerry Reed song. When I sent it to Jamey, I said, “Hey, you want to come sing it with me?” And he called me as soon as he heard it, he said, “Good Lord. You went wide open on this thing.” I said, “Yeah. You want to come and sing it?” He goes, “You sure you want me on it?” I said, “Yes, I do.” He said, “All right, then.” And next week, he went and sang on it, and it turned out pretty cool.
4. How’d you get your buddy Jon Pardi involved on ‘In Love With My Problems’?
Larry Fleet: Yeah, I wrote that with Jake Mitchell and Josh Thompson—two great writers. And we went in to write one day and that’s the first song I ever wrote with Jake Mitchell. I guess, he had been going through some girl problems or something other. And he said, “If I could fall in love with my problems, maybe they’d leave me too.” And I said, “Dude, I think that’s a song.” And so, we sat and just had some fun with it and wrote about if you could fall in love with your problems. Every time you love something, it seems to leave you. That’s what he was saying. And so I said, “What a cool idea.” And we just put it all together.
And then, I sent it to Jon and he was like, “This is cool.” I said, “Well, come on over and sing it, man. I’d love it.” Sure enough, he walked in like a pro and sang that thing in about 15 minutes. He nailed it. So it was a real cool thing to have him on it because he’s been a good friend too, and I’m glad to have him on it.
5. What’s the inspiration behind your new release, ‘Different Shade of Red’?
Larry Fleet: I had an epiphany, I guess, one day. Growing up in White Bluff, Tennessee, we were a little redneck. We rode around, we had a good time as teenagers and kids and stuff, and kind of partied and got a little wild. I thought about that and I thought about where I’m at now. And I’m a little different shade of red. Deep down, there’s still a redneck in me, but it’s like I’m a different shade of red now. And so, I had this title and I sat down with a couple of buddies and I said, “I got this title.” And they said, “Oh, we love it.” We ended up writing it. It’s pretty much about where I was at and then where I’m at now. There’s still a little redneck in me. It’s just a little different red now. And that’s kind of where that comes from.
Larry Fleet: ‘Stack of Records’ Track List & Songwriters
1. “Stack of Records”– (Larry Fleet, Ben Hayslip, Eric Paslay)
2. “Lifetime Guarantee” – (Larry Fleet, Chris Gelbuda, Brett James)
3. “Where I Find God”– (Larry Fleet, Connie Rae Harrington)
4. “Quittin’ Ain’t Workin'” – (Larry Fleet, Rhett Akins, Will Bundy)
5. “Different Shade of Red” – (Larry Fleet, Lindsay Rimes, Michael Whitworth)
6. “A Life Worth Living” – (Larry Fleet, Will Bundy, Brett James)
7. “Hurt Feelings”– (Larry Fleet, Will Bundy, Brad Warren, Brett Warren)
8. “Church Parking Lot”– (Larry Fleet, Lindsay Rimes, Michael Whitworth)
9. “In Love With My Problems (feat. Jon Pardi)” – (Larry Fleet, Jake Mitchell, Josh Thompson)
10. “Three Chords and a Lie” – (Larry Fleet, Will Bundy, Brett Tyler)
11. “Never Wanna Meet Another Woman” – (Larry Fleet, Will Bundy, Lydia Vaughan)
12. “Heart On My Sleeve” – (Larry Fleet, Will Bundy, Jeff Hyde)
13. “One For The Road” – (Larry Fleet, Emily Fox Landis, Logan Wall)
14. “Highway Feet” feat. Jamey Johnson & Bryan Sutton [Bonus] – (Larry Fleet, Jamey Johnson)