The year couldn’t have started any better for Randy Houser. The laid-back singer-songwriter reached the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart with “How Country Feels.” He reached that sonic summit for the first time in his career back in January.
“It’s huge to be able to accomplish that,” Houser said. “I want to thank everyone that has worked with me to reach such a goal. It’s amazing.”
The only thing that tops that accomplishment is his 1-year-old son, West. “There’s nothing like being a daddy,” Houser said. “It’s great to have success, a great career and all of that, but nothing is important as being a father. It’s been incredible.”
Houser will perform Thursday at the Cotillion in a benefit concert for the Kansas Humane Society. He’s clearly in a groove personally and professionally. His latest album, “How Country Feels,” is different from his two prior releases, which are straightforward country. This time out Houser finds his way with bright, bold country-pop. More than half of the 15 songs are filled with big hooks.
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Country jam band star Zac Brown co-wrote the bouncy “Along for the Ride.” Lee Brice offers a nice assist penning the well-constructed “Absolutely Nothing.”
But the best songs have Houser’s fingerprints all over them. His style of writing is easy to spot in the catchy “Power of a Song” and in “Growin’ Younger.” Don’t forget that Houser was a songwriter first. He moved from Mississippi to Nashville to start his career as a hitmaker for hire a decade ago. He penned “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” which became a Top 5 hit for Trace Adkins in 2005.
“I’ve always enjoyed writing,” Houser said. “That’s how it started for me. It’s not as if I lost that. I don’t just sing other people’s songs. I still love to write and sing what I write.”
The most moving song on his latest album is “Route 3 Box 250D,” inspired by when Randy and his mother left his abusive stepfather.
“There are certain songs that only you can write because of an experience,” Houser said. “You can always put your experience down in song. The great thing is that life isn’t hopeless. You can turn things around.”
Houser has certainly done that. He’s moved on past a challenging childhood. He became a well-respected songsmith. He’s a popular singer with a nice family.
“I’m just fortunate,” Houser said. “Good things have happened to me. But I’ve worked hard for everything I have. There’s that and some good fortune. I can’t complain at all.”