Eric Paslay Gives Old Hits New Life With ‘Even If It Breaks Your Barefoot Friday Night’
Eric Paslay is taking fans on a trip down memory lane with his new album, Even If It Breaks Your Barefoot Friday Night, out Friday (April 15). True to its name, the nine-track project is full of revamped hits — both his own and those he's written for other artists.
The album is Paslay's first full release since 2020's Nice Guy, and it comes after a whirlwind couple of years that saw a pandemic and the effects of the 2020 Nashville tornado that damaged the singer's home. Despite those hurdles, however, Paslay says the past few years have been full of precious time with his wife, Natalie, and their 3-year-old daughter, Piper.
"The last few years have been super sweet just because of Piper," Paslay shares in an interview with Taste of Country. "She’s just a little over three and I'm thinking about the time that I've had with her that I definitely, in a world without COVID or changes like that, I wouldn’t have been around or near as much . . . I’m kind of like, 'All right, this is all happening at a perfect time.'"
This period gave also Paslay ample time to spend in the studio putting a fresh spin on his hit songs. The album kicks off with Paslay's 2015 single "High Class," which greets listeners with panoramic production that leans more acoustic than the original but doesn’t pull any punches. Then there's Jake Owen's 2011 hit, "Barefoot Blue Jean Night," which Paslay wrote with Dylan Altman and Terry Sawchuk. Paslay’s version keeps the summer-fun feeling while adding a powerful beat.
The inspiration for recreating these songs was threefold: Paslay simply wanted to record his own versions of songs he wrote for other artists, he enjoyed the challenge of recreating his own songs and he now owns the masters of each song.
"I'm not going to say 'Eric’s version,' but that’s pretty much it," Paslay says, referencing Taylor Swift's undertaking to re-record her early albums. "The biggest thing to me was I always loved the challenge of, 'Could I re-record these and actually not make them sound exactly the same?'"
"I'm more inspired by the creativity just to see if we could pull it off, and I think we did," he says.
The process of creating the new versions included close collaboration with producer Mitch Furr. In his version of "The Driver," a 2015 collaboration between Charles Kelley, Paslay and Dierks Bentley, subtle piano takes the place of more robust production in the original. Such is also the case in "She Don’t Love You," where piano instrumentation, instead of the original guitar, serves to illustrate the song's lonely lyrics.
"Piano and vocal. That’s about as intimate as it gets," says Paslay.
Paslay turns up the tempo with the re-envisioned version of 2013's "Friday Night," which features a slight '80s rock vibe compared to the banjo-twinged production of the original. He also lends his voice to "Rewind," a 2014 Rascal Flatts hit that Paslay wrote with Chris DeStefano and Ashley Gorley.
Love and Theft's "Angel Eyes" also makes an appearance, and then there's "Even If It Breaks Your Heart," a No. 1 hit Paslay wrote with Will Hoge, which Eli Young Band released in 2012.
"People always ask, 'What's your favorite song that you've written?' And I think everything that song encompasses is my favorite type of song," says Paslay of the Eli Young Band tune. "To tell people, 'Don’t give up and it’s all good and we’ve all been there.'"
In addition to treating fans to the new versions of his songs, Paslay is dropping three NFTs (non-fungible tokens) along with the album. The first is a $25 ticket to join Paslay's digital community, which gives fans access to exclusive hangouts, concerts and Q&A sessions. The second NFT is a limited edition custom light Paslay made out of the black walnut tree that struck his home in March 2020. And for the third offering on April 20, Paslay is auctioning off 10 NFTs that will give fans ownership of one percent of his new album’s royalties — something that has yet to be done in country music.
"Basically getting to buy into an album with five number ones guaranteed on it," Paslay says of the final NFT. "Grammy-nominated, ACM, CMA-nominated songs that people will definitely play everywhere you can play it because they’re already famous. It’ll be interesting."
More than the perks of the NFTs, though, Paslay hopes Even If It Breaks Your Barefoot Friday Night brings nostalgia and fun to people's lives.
"Just have fun," he says. "Go back, have fun and rock some Even If It Breaks Your Barefoot Friday Night."