On July 27, Rhett shared that his third studio album will be called Life Changes. The title track was written by Rhett, his father Rhett Akins, Jesse Frasure and Ashley Gorley; Rhett has said that the song “basically 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.”
The Release Date
The press release announcing Life Changes‘ first single, “Craving You,” reported that the project would debut sometime in 2017, and in June, Rhett said that it would be out in the fall. On July 27, Rhett revealed Sept. 8 as Life Changes‘ release date.
The Record Label
Rhett will release his third album with Big Machine Label Group’s Valory Music Co. His debut album, It Goes Like This, as well as 2015’s Tangled Up were released through the same label.
The Album Cover
Rhett’s Life Changes album cover features the singer, wearing a hoodie and a jean jacket, set against a slightly off-white background. Rhett’s name and the album’s title are scrawled in a not-exactly-perfect font — almost as though they’ve been written with a crayon or a marker.
Rhett co-produced Life Changes with Dann Huff and Jesse Frasure.
“Craving You” was written by Julian Bunetta and Dave Barnes, and the ’80s-inspired track features Maren Morris. Rhett was supposed to be in the songwriting session as well, but he got sick and couldn’t make it; however, he says that when he heard the song, he was instantly drawn to its emotional longing and intensity.
Rhett tells Taste of Country that “Craving You” “wasn’t even supposed to be a duet,” but when his manager suggested featuring someone on harmonies, Morris was the obvious choice.
“It was so nice to be able to work with — you know, there’s a lot of females that are killing it right now, and Maren is definitely one of those girls whose voice is just undeniably powerful and soulful, and on top of that, [she’s] just a really, really sweet person to work with,” Rhett says. “I think she just adds so much life and so much intensity to this song.”
On July 21, Rhett announced “Unforgettable” as his second single from his third studio album. The song officially premiered around midnight on July 28; its lyric video features Rhett and his wife Lauren.
“We kind of told the story of — basically, it could be a boyfriend or it could be a husband, describing to his wife all these amazing details that she probably thought he’d forgotten about,” Rhett says of “Unforgettable,” written by himself, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley and Shane McAnally. To the Tennessean, he adds, “If you listen to it hardcore enough, it might make you tear up a little bit. Especially if you’re in love with somebody.”
“Unforgettable” gets bonus points for earning the approval of Rhett’s wife Lauren, too.
In September, Rhett mentioned that he’d started writing for his third album before his second one was even released.
“You know, we’ve been working a lot on the writing front, even before the second record came out,” Rhett told The Boot from the red carpet at the ACM Honors. “So we have a lot of songs, and we’re already getting in the studio and starting work on a third album.”
Rhett later told Taste of Country that “a couple” of the songs on his third album talk about going through the process of adopting a child, but that the record was done before he and his wife found out that she was pregnant, “so maybe Record No. 4 will be a lot about my little kids.”
Life Changes features 14 songs, 10 of which were co-written by Rhett. Rhett’s father, Rhett Akins, helped his son pen the title track and a song called “Sweetheart,” which Rhett describes to USA Today as “Merle Haggard meets Eric Church meets Corey Smith.” Akins also co-write a tune called “Drink a Little Beer,” on which he is featured.
“I want people to come in from different genres and be like, ‘Dang, I never really listened to country music, but this record kind of turns me on in different ways,’” Rhett tells USA Today. “I think that’s why I recorded so many different types of songs on this record and really just tried to write what I know about.”
He adds, “There was a ton of discussion … about how do these songs get to co-exist on the same record. But … at the end of the day, it’s all me and all things I’ve listened to and been inspired by. I think that’s what makes it a cohesive Thomas Rhett album.”
A complete track listing for Life Changes is below. Rhett had been performing an unreleased tune called “Love Sucks” at recent concerts, but that song is not on the record.
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)
Rhett is currently in the middle of his 2017 Home Team Tour, which began in February and will visit cities throughout the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom during its run. Kelsea Ballerini, Russell Dickerson and Ryan Hurd are performing as special guests (and, here’s a fun note: Hurd is dating Morris, which may be how Rhett got connected with the Grammys-winning artist in the first place!).