Thomas Rhett’s “Center Point Road” Redefines Country-Pop
By Sally Kim
Thomas Rhett has been dominating the country scene for a while now, along with Florida Georgia Line, Luke Combs, and Sam Hunt. He has mastered the art of country-pop with songs like “Marry Me,” “Die a Happy Man,” “T-Shirt,” and “Unforgettable.”
The most prominent topics in his songs have been meditation on adolescence and aging, and the identity and role confusion that comes along with it. His style has shifted from carefree and light, with songs such as “Unforgettable,” to a newfound seriousness and depth like “Remember You Young,” his Kelsea Ballerini-assisted title track. It also has a ballad-like component. Another similar song is “VHS,” which gives a very wistful summery vibe.
Many of his songs still contain that nostalgic vibe from his “Life Changes” album, with the common theme of love, featuring his wife Lauren Rhett as his muse, seen in songs like “That Old Truck,” “Things You Do For Love” or “Look What God Gave Her” (which was released earlier this year and has been dominating the country station for weeks: “Look what God gave her, how perfect he made her. She walks in the room it’s like He answered my prayers...”). His fourth studio album is pretty nostalgic. “I wish I could say it was the most exciting thing in the world, but if you’ve ever been to Hendersonville, you know there’s not a lot to do there,” says Thomas Rhett about his hometown in Tennessee, where he lived on Center Point Road. He told Rolling Stone that “That’s where all my growing up really happened. All my first memories of life were on that little street. So I feel like for this record it made a lot of sense -- because the record is super nostalgic to me -- to name it after something that had a lot of impact on my life.”
Though he was born in Georgia, his tracks in “Center Point Road” showcase his deep-rooted sentiments he feels for his childhood. Rhett said, “Dad moved us to Nashville in 1995 when he signed his record deal. I lived on Center Point Road from the time I was about six until I was about 21. That was a big chunk of my life that I made neighborhood friends, started playing sports, started dating girls. There were a lot of things that happened for the first time there. It’s really cool to dive back into your 13 or 15-year-old self and try to derive song ideas from that.”
Besides the nostalgia, Rhett’s fourth album also features a lot of variously talented fellow country artists, such as Jon Pardi, famous for “Dirt On My Boots” on “Beer Can’t Fix,” and Little Big Town, made recently more aware thanks to Taylor Swift’s songwriting collab with them, on “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time.”
Throughout this album, Thomas Rhett reflects back on his days at Center Point Road and how his childhood and adolescence has led him to where he is today. “‘Almost’ was the last one I wrote for this album,” he said. “I just love the concept of looking back on your life and going, ‘If I’d done something even remotely different on that night, where would I be today? If I had married the first girl that I thought I loved, where would I be today?’ It’s all these crazy decisions in your life that ultimately leads you to where you are today. I love the sentiment of the word ‘almost.’ I almost did it or almost didn’t do it, and it shaped me to the person I am today. I think it’s a really cool way to close out the record.”