Where We Started: A Reflective Outlook on Life

I was introduced to Thomas Rhett’s (TR) music way back in the fall of 2019. At that time TR was touring with his new album Center Point Road which came out a couple of months prior. Country artists are easy to shove aside because of their genre. The great thing about Thomas Rhett is that he fuses classical country storytelling with more pop-infused beats and melodies. He never seems to disappoint when it comes to the projects that he puts out.

Thomas Rhett has been releasing music for a decade; however, he’s been a part of the music industry for even longer. His father, Rhett Akins, was a country artist himself and TR grew up on the stage with a guitar in his hands. The great thing about an artist this far into his career is that he’s found out what he wants to write about and what he wants to say to the world and has no regrets about it. Where We Started is a wisdom-filled approach to the process of life. There are hints of nostalgia as Thomas reminisces about growing up and meeting his wife. Lauren, his wife, and Thomas have known each other since high school, and a couple of songs on Where We Started flash back to key events in their lives together. The overall story and theme of the album remain true to the title, a story about where we start in our lives and the choices we make that lead us to the present day. 

Thomas Rhett has been all over the place in terms of style and even genre of music. Yes, he’s a country artist, but he goes beyond and infuses pop and other styles of music into his songs. It Goes Like This (2013) was his first studio album and definitely channels the country artists he grew up around and is stereotypically country. Tangled Up (2015) started introducing more funk and pop elements to his sound while also getting meaningful for “Die A Happy Man.” From Tangled Up he continued with his pop/country style into Life Changes (2017) where he starts to find his voice and sound and the messages he wants to present to the world as well. From Life Changes onwards, TR settled into his sound and also established his love for being nostalgic. Center Point Road (2019) is named after a street in his hometown and the title track “Center Point Road” is about the complexity of youth and how the teenage years are the most complicated parts of life. “Remember You Young” is one of my favorite songs from Center Point Road and it perfectly captures Thomas’ love for looking back and smiling because life happened. Finally, Country Again [Side A] (2021) gave us a concise country album that hit the roots of reflection that came out during the COVID pandemic.

Where We Started seemed to write itself. After the pandemic and the emotions that were captured for Side A, TR and his band were gearing up to get on the road for a tour. While on the road they kept writing songs for Side B but in the aftermath of the pandemic a whole new wave of emotions sprang upon them that didn’t fit the slower vibe Thomas Rhett was envisioning for Country Again (Side B). The summer inspired more upbeat songs and they kept writing and writing and they came to a point where 5 songs became 50. One song on the album called “Anything Cold” was written on the beach after Thoams yelled to his friend/co-writer Jesse Frasure, “Does anyone want anything?” to which Jesse responded, “Anything cold, with alcohol.”  Thomas, Jesse, and the rest of their friends wrote the rest of the song standing in the water. 

In an interview with Entertainment Focus TR talked about the influence his grandparents had on his love of 50s music. “I’ve always had such a special place in my heart for the 1950s because of my grandparents…my grandmother is a die-hard lover of 50’s Doo-Wop music.” He was introduced to some of the greats including Elvis, Sinatra, and Doris Day. For “Simple as a Song,” TR sampled Doris Day’s If I Give My Heart to You, cementing his shared love of 50s music in his own music forever.

Albums have a sweet spot when it comes to the number of tracks and run-time. Where We Started perfectly hits this threshold with 15 songs amounting to a run-time of 47 minutes. TR used social media to tease and promote his upcoming album in conjunction with having his first single, “Slow Down Summer” featured on the radio. After “Slow Down Summer” was released in early November, Thomas Rhett released four more singles, “Church Boots,” “Angels,” “Us Someday,” and “Death Row” in the time leading up to the album’s April 1st release. 

My favorite songs and the ones that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in this album are “Us Someday,” “Where We Started,” “Slow Down Summer,” and “Mama’s Front Door”. Each of these songs gives a different piece of the album’s overall message by focusing on the roots from which Thomas grew and matured over his career. A notable aspect of  “Mama’s Front Door” that is unique among the songs on this album is that the song is more of a story that progresses verse after verse. Each verse teleports the listener deeper and deeper into TR’s life as the song progresses from the past as we approach the present day. For as spontaneous as the album was, the product was nothing short of refreshing and fun. Where We Started is full of TR’s pop/country style and does not disappoint when it comes to summer vibes. There’s a great balance of sentimentality and youthful enjoyment that keeps the album true to TR’s approach to storytelling. I’m excited for Side B and anything else further down the road from TR and I’m optimistic that his unique storytelling will stick with him for the rest of his career.