PT 2 – A New Direction
This was a great first step, but the whole album really started to come together when my manager Johnny connected me with CCMA songwriter of the year nominee Caeland Garner from Nashville. Garner co-wrote ‘Baby I Know it’ for Johnny Reid. We saw him as a perfect fit and flew him up to Canada to write for a week. I went to pick him up at the airport and I quickly picked him out from the crowd by the shine of his silky long exuberant brown hair, and his tall physique. His southern accent was just as thick as his hair.
We immediately hit it off and as soon as we got back to my place, Caeland had already started a song before he had even unpacked his things. Within an hour of arriving in my hometown, while sitting in my kitchen, Caeland and I had already finished our first song ‘Sugar Don’t.’ There was no question that ‘Sugar Don’t’ had to be on the album. A song with an undeniably catchy melody and expressive romantic lyrics was very representative of what we wanted to achieve.
The next day, I took Caeland to my cousin’s beautiful ranch in Muskoka, Ontario. We hung out there and wrote for the rest of his time in Canada. Because all this happened in the winter time, there was about two metres of snow, which he had never seen before. The culture difference between us was apparent though, while he asked for a ‘toboggan hat’ to keep his head warm, all I had were ‘toques’ – the Canadian name for hats.
Besides song writing, we made the best of this trip: we had beers, went sledding, hung out with the horses, and watched the stars at night. It didn’t take me long to discover that Caeland was just as much of a hopeless romantic as I was. When we wrote, the lyrics and the melodies just flowed out like magic.
We wrote six songs up there and all of them were great! One of them being my favourite song from the album titled ‘That girl is a Mustang.’ And by that I do not mean the car, but the horse. This song is about a girl who is wild, free, adventurous and deeply emotional. She follows the wind like a feather – she’s the girl who is bound to break your heart but pulls you in hard. She’s unpredictable and hard to tame, but she keeps pulling on your heart strings.
We wrote ‘Mustang’ at about 3am one night after listening to the new Rascal Flatts song ‘Rewind’ and were chatting about our mustang ex-girlfriends getting all teary eyed.
Caeland said the line “That girl is a mustang” and the melody hit me immediately. We didn’t finish the song that night. We didn’t want to rush the process, so we spent the next day relaxing and spending time with the horses. I think I also ate an entire chocolate cake. But soon after that, we had finished the song and we knew it was special and had to be on the album.
At the end of the week, I drove Caeland back to the airport to catch his flight to Nashville. A few weeks after I broke up with my girlfriend at the time, and was going through an emotional heartbreak, before I knew it, I was on a jet plane on my way to Nashville, to write and stay with Caeland for a month.