Third Day's Mac Powell has just released his second country music album entitled "Southpaw." The 12-song set finds the contemporary Christian rocker co-writing with Darius Rucker, Sugarland's Kristian Bush and Travis Tritt.
"I grew up listening to country music," says the musician, whose family moved from Clanton, Alabama, to Atlanta when he was a teen. "I'm from the south, so you're surrounded by it whether you like it or not. But fortunately I do like it a lot, and I always have. I've wanted to do [country music] for a long time. I put it off for many years because of time and fears, all sorts of different reasons, but I finally got to a point where I couldn't put it off any longer. I was already looking back going, 'Man I wish I had done this five years ago.'"
Coming from the Christian community, Powell says he's received very little backlash. "You're always going to get that, but thankfully it's been miniscule," he relates. "There's just one person every once in a while who will say something. The other day, this guy was tweeting me saying, 'Mac, you were in such-and-such city. Did you play in a bar? Tell me you did not play in a bar.' I said, 'I did. And if you don't like that, there's a worship record coming out in March. You'll enjoy that.'"
"That's the great thing about it," he says. "If people don't like what I'm doing, I say, 'You know what? Just put it on pause and wait a few months and you'll be satisfied with the Third Day stuff.'"
Defending his cross genre choice, Powell says, "If you were to ask someone who doesn't listen to country music: 'What is country music about?' they would probably tell you, 'Well it's about drinking and cheating,'" Powell says, but he's quick to defend the genre. "Yes, there's always been those songs, but that's not the majority of what's talked about in country music. Nowadays on the radio what's big is some of that, but I don't feel that that means Christian values have left country music. They're definitely still there. You hear those [Christian values] in great records like the Eric Paslay record, and I could go down the list. So I don't think it's left at all. I think it's just a little bit more in the background than it has been in the past few years. I'm confident that it will surface again."
Powell wrote or co-wrote every cut on the album with the exception of the Chris Stapleton/Barry Bales penned "Sittin' Here Talking With You." Powell co-wrote seven tracks with Hoard, his longtime friend and producer, and songwriter Heath Balltzglier contributes to three songs. The album closes with a country cover of the classic Third Day hit "I've Always Loved You."
"I've done it live with my country band, and always thought it would be cool to re-do this one day," Powell shares. "And when I wrote with the Band Perry a few months ago, they said, 'We love 'I've Always Loved You.' It's totally a country song. You should re-do it.' That confirmation made me record it again. When people ask me in interviews, 'What's your favorite Third Day song?' I always say that one, so to be able to do that on a country record was cool for me."