Robby Klein Russell Dickerson
No one would know that a country superstar lives at the end of Russell Dickerson's driveway. Situated just outside of the city limits of Music City, the wooded retreat that the Tennessee native shares with wife Kailey and their 2-year-old son Remington is secluded and private and so very quiet.
And it's home.
Granted, it's a place that feels quite the opposite from the life Dickerson lives in the spotlight of stardom as the hitmaker of No. 1 hits such as "Yours," "Blue Tacoma," and "Love You Like I Used To." Nevertheless, it's a place where the big personality with the wide smile and loud laugh can get his thoughts together, both personally and professionally.
"Every time we get home from the road, just, it's just a huge breath of fresh air," explains Dickerson, 35, in a recent interview with PEOPLE mere days before the release of his 15-track self-titled album. "Just to have a space to decompress…I mean, we can't see any neighbors. It's exactly what we need every time."
Russell Dickerson Cover Art
It now also serves as the place where Dickerson created his third studio album.
"With album one, you're kind of figuring things out and with album two, you get a little more dialed in," he says, going on to add that he felt that his second studio album Southern Symphony "was maybe a little conservative" for his liking. "But with this one, we just really kind of blew open the genre barriers. And I just put 15 songs on there that I love and then I pieced them all together to tell a story."
He laughs as he explains, "That's really why this one is a self-titled project. It's me at my core."
Indeed, the self-titled project released on Nov. 4 not only tells the tale of the 6'4" softie who now makes a living making music, but also the person that he once was before the bright lights of stardom shined his way.
"'Blame It on Being Young' is about when I was 16 or 17, and all the dumb stuff we used to do," he says with a laugh of the song he co-wrote alongside Josh Kerr and Parker Welling that kicks off the album. Meanwhile, "Just Like Your Mama" concludes it.
"I wrote it after Rem was born," remembers Dickerson of the song he wrote alongside Lori McKenna and Casey Brown about his son, who already loves to sing. "As soon as they threw out that title, I just started playing that acoustic guitar riff and singing about all the stuff that I hope my son grows up to be like his mom."
And yes, Kailey loved it from the first listen.
"I got big bonus points for that one," Dickerson laughs, but then turns quiet. "I cry every time I hear that song now."
Indeed, reflection served as another driving factor for this particular album, with Dickerson even looking as to how he could grow sonically this time around.
"There was a song on the album called 'She's Why' that's got a big range to it," explains Dickerson. "Vocally, that one was definitely challenging to get in there and record."
But it's a challenge Dickerson said excited him, especially as he was undoubtedly in charge of the direction of this album, co-writing and co-producing every song on the album, including the already platinum-certified hit "She Likes It" ft. Jake Scott.
"That's why we were able to take some liberties as far as bringing in new producers as well," explains Dickerson, who co-produced the album alongside superstars such as Dann Huff, Zach Crowell, Casey Brown, Josh Kerr, Ben Johnson, and Alysa Vanderheym. "I got to be that common thread. I've written these songs, but I could also bring in a different producer to bring a little extra flavor. But me being involved in the production standpoint is that anchor that makes it a cohesive album."
But while it may be cohesive, Dickerson says it also feels diverse, a see-saw type of quality that his fans have come to expect in his live show.
"I feel like there's just a great balance of up-tempos and slammers for the live show, but also these deeper emotional moments too," Dickerson says.
Personally, Dickerson is now looking forward to having some time to work on continued renovations on his and Kailey's house in the woods. "We got the renovations on the main level done, and now we're working on the outside," he says. "That's the main part that needs the most love is the exterior. Get a little exterior fireplace going. I mean, just to sit out there and look up at the sky and out at the woods and everything. That's our next big undertaking."
Well, there might be one more undertaking on his mind.
"Who knows?" he asks aloud about giving Remington a sibling. "Not right now, but you never know when."