For Ty Herndon, whose voice is equal parts cayenne, good whiskey and honest emotion, Living In A Moment is an album that explores the depth of an artist who's been nominated for or won just about every Best New Male award of the last year. And since the unprecedented success of his very first single -- What Mattered Most -- Herndons been building a musical base based on his multi-faceted love of all kinds of music.
The first thing I think people are going to notice about this record, says the dark-haired Butler, Alabama native with a smile, is the fact that there are so many different kinds of music on here. There's the stone country of Don't Tell Mama that reminds me of that real hard-core country music of George Strait and Randy Travis. There's the uplifting feel of Before There Was You. There's also the more funky gospel of Returning The Faith that gets under your skin. To me, this song says so much about the strength and beauty of a real committed relationship - plus its got a totally irresistible groove. And, of course, there are plenty of those real turning point ballads like I Know How The River Feels and She Wants To Be Wanted.
And as exciting as it is for me to listen to this album, what really makes me happy is the fact that its going to give the fans a better sense of who I am. What Mattered Most was such a great introduction, because it gets down to the essence of what I'm about...but this album offers a much fuller picture.
Trying to stop Herndon from going on about his second album -- again produced by Epic Records Nashville Senior Vice President Doug Johnson -- is a lot like trying to catch a waterfall in a dixie cup. You can try, but more than likely you'll be swept up in the rush of the current and the flow of the tide. Fortunately, the music on Living In A Moment more than measures up to the high musical standards set by his debut.
From the very start of Living In A Moment, its apparent this is an album about digging a little deeper and searching ones soul for the things that truly make a difference. But the growth and more involved emotional themes don't come at the expense of the commercial accessibility, which has also been one of the plain-spoken singers trademarks.
When I first heard the title song, the pictures that came into my mind were just incredible, Herndon enthuses. I come from this long line of people who really love each other and show it. If there's anything I learned from my family -- besides the love of music -- its that love is something that is measured in the moments, and that's what makes a lifetime. I think Living In A Moment captures that feeling beautifully.
And it really is true. Our lives are made up these moments that could sustain you forever -- realizing you're falling in love, seeing your wife coming down the aisle, the birth of your child, seeing someone achieve a dream. Those are the moments that make our lives what they are. If you can stay in those moments and really savor them, well, then you're really living.
Certainly Herndon has done his share of living. Born in Meridian, Mississippi and raised in Butler, Alabama, he was bit by the music bug in his youth. His mother and her two sisters were known as the Todd Sisters, and they had their own radio show, while his grandmother still picks a mean flat-top guitar, in addition to having her own weekly radio show.
At an early age, he struck out for Nashville to try and make it. Like so many young people, his dream got sidelined by bad business dealings and Ty moved to Texas to try and work off his debt and find himself as a performer in the Lone Star states bars and ice houses. It was the ultimate honky tonk education, and Ty graduated with honors when he was named Texas Entertainer of the Year in 1993.
Being out there night after night, singing other peoples songs teaches you what it takes to connect with an audience, Herndon says of life pre-record deal. But when you go out on the road and you're singing your songs for them, that's when you realize what an important contribution your music makes to peoples lives. And when you see the way the words to one of your songs can move them -- either tears or laughter -- you realize there's a whole level of obligation that comes with making records.
Its not just about what you think is cool or what you think is great. You have to consider what a song might mean to someone else. Take Don't Tell Mama. To me, when I sing that song I think about my 20-year-old cousin, who was killed by an auto accident. But I know that song is going to mean an awful lot to other people who've lost a loved one in the same kind of situation. And even though the person in the song is drunk, it casts a little forgiveness on what happens, because you realize that this person was basically human.
Looking at both sides of the coin is one of the things that marks Living In A Moment. Its an album about the emotions and moments that are greater than any one person, yet are the very things that define each of us as individuals. For Ty, this collection of songs is about seeking something more meaningful than even a one-on-one relationship -- its about the bigger love that fills all of our lives.
Everyone talks about the spirituality that's so much a part of life, but I think its hard to define, Herndon offers. To me, its something that's part of smaller, more specific things. But when you look at them as a whole, you get the big picture.
I didn't set out to make some profound record. I just wanted to make a record that was true to the way I've found life to be, especially life since I've had some success. There's an awful lot of different kinds of loves out there -- from the fans who stand by you to your friends who listen to your doubts and triumphs and who keep you going, to my wife, who's both a soulmate and friend -- and its easy to forget that there's more to it than just romantic love. So when you hear a song like I Have To Surrender, that's a song certainly about trying to get what you want from a relationship. But its also a song about survival and breaking down the way we look at how were supposed to be. That one looks at the whole needing-to-be-strong-no-matter-what school of thought and shows that sometimes it takes a lot of strength to admit to needing someone else, to be willing to let it happen. As the lyrics say: When want became need/My heart had no choice at all...
I can think of nothing scarier. But when you really care for someone, you'll do what it takes. So in surrender, you find a new kind of strength.
And its in the basic truths that the larger realities present themselves on Living In A Moment. Whether its the reality of idealization in Her Heart Is Only Human or the staccato reminder that Love Don't Work That Way, Ty Herndon is here to testify to the redeeming power of love and acceptance. And in the process, he shows country music lovers that there's nothing more profound or meaningful than honing in on the basics.