In a loose, lengthy and at times emotional press conference Thursday morning in Nashville, Garth Brooks confirmed his expected comeback, announcing a new album and world tour. While the bulk of the information shared was kept intentionally vague, Brooks said he has partnered with Sony Music's RCA Records to distribute the new material and help with radio promotion. The album — as yet untitled, as confirmed by a Sony representative — will be released "around Black Friday," the retail-centered Friday after Thanksgiving.
Wearing a Garth Brooks at the Wynn Las Vegas baseball hat and a button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled, the entertainer's attire reflected the casual nature of what was nonetheless one of the biggest announcements to come out of Nashville in some time. The return of the Nineties giant, even at age 52, signals major competition for today's young hitmakers and the antithesis to the "bro country" currently reigning on the charts. Brooks, while praising contemporary country music, stated that his new songs wouldn't veer toward "bro country" or "hick hop."
"If you had to put it in a box for me, (it'd be) 'Garth Music,'" Brooks said, describing his work in the studio. Later, he added the type of content he has been known for — Western fare like "Rodeo" and "Much too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)" — will be well-represented. "You're damn straight we'll do cowboys songs on this album."
Brooks also announced that his catalog will finally be available digitally — "for a stupid price," he joked. One of the last digital-music holdouts, Brooks will not be working with iTunes however. His website, garthbrooks.com, will be the only place fans can download Brooks' music. And likely only full albums, as his longtime issue with iTunes was that the digital music purveyor allows users to download individual songs. "When it's used right, it can do wonders for the artists. And even better, it can do wonders for the songwriters," he said of digital music. Further information on the digital rollout is expected "within the next two or three weeks."
As for the world tour, Brooks will announce the opening city of the trek on July 14th, sharing it personally with a fan who attended one of his Las Vegas full-band performances. Brooks said it's then up to the fan, named Andy, how he would like to share that information with the world. He is also in talks with Ticketmaster to help sell tickets (presently, garthbrooks.com will be the sole seller) and is pleased by the company's willingness to help him secure low ticket prices.
"Our job is to go out there and fly the flag for country music," Brooks said of the tour. He also hinted at the massive production he'll be bringing along with him. "I've seen the world tour stage. It's phenomenal."
The press conference doubled as a forum for Brooks to talk at length about the cancellation of his five sold-out concerts in Ireland, originally slated for July 25-29 at Dublin's Croke Park. A government permit snafu with two of the five shows forced the promoter to cancel the entire run. With reporters from Ireland in the audience, the Oklahoma native addressed them directly and fielded their questions about the ordeal.
"Ireland’s people should never be embarrassed. Most loving people on earth," Brooks said. "If the prime minister himself wants to talk to me, I will craw, I will swim ... I will drop on my knees and beg for those 400,000 people to have fun and come sing.
"If anyone on the planet is sad about (the cancellations), you're not one-billionth as sad as I am."
Brooks' upcoming album, produced by Mark Miller, previously his engineer, will feature many contributions from Nashville's songwriting community.
"Right now, most of the stuff we've been cutting have been outside songs, and you just make them yours," Brooks said, teasing that the record boasts a song that may eclipse one of his biggest hits. "This (album) holds a song on it that might take the place of 'The Dance' for me."
Expect Brooks to parse out more information about the upcoming album and, especially, tour in the coming weeks. The Country Music Hall of Famer could barely contain his excitement when talking up his return to the road.
"For those who show up, I hope we give you a show that makes you forget the ones that were in the Nineties."
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