C&I talks with country-pop singer Kelly Lang about her new album, Obsession, available now.
The daughter of Conway Twitty’s road manager, Kelly Lang knows her way around the music scene. When she isn’t writing hits for Jerry Lee Lewis; The Oak Ridge Boys; Ricky Skaggs; and her husband, T.G. Sheppard, she’s producing critically acclaimed albums like Throwback, featuring collaborations with Olivia Newton-John, and her pop album Shades of “K.”
Her new record, Obsession, puts her talents as a songwriter center stage. Documenting the highs and lows of being a woman, the album consists of 12 empowering tracks, written and produced by Lang.
C&I recently talked with Lang about the album, songwriting, and life with T.G. Sheppard.
Cowboys & Indians: What are you most excited about with the release of Obsession?
Kelly Lang: I’m just so glad to share my writing and production with new listeners. It is very scary putting such innermost thoughts and feelings out there to be judged, but it is also fulfilling to be so open and authentic. Hopefully, the listener will feel my honesty within the music.
C&I: What else do you hope your fans will get from your new music?
Lang: As a writer, I look at the world just a little different. Maybe I can help a listener find a way of coping with something they are dealing with in a positive or different way.
C&I: This album really displays your talents as a singer-songwriter. What was the songwriting and producing process like?
Lang: Well, I write most of my music in the swimming pool or bath — [those are] the places that I am most relaxed. The creative juices flow easier when I can take everything else off my mind. I love to take a song from a raw state into a studio with the greatest musicians in the world and see where they end up with it. The production starts there, and then I so enjoy adding the finishing touches. It’s very similar to creating a painting — from a clean canvas till when you sign your piece of art. Very fulfilling.
C&I: Your husband, T.G. Sheppard, is a country hitmaker. Did he give you any good advice when you started to write for your latest album?
Lang: Well, we always run ideas past each other. We have very similar taste in music, and with his past success, I have a great deal of trust in his expertise. We enjoy working together very much.
C&I: Where did you get inspiration for this album?
Lang: I just wanted to challenge myself to see if I could be the sole writer on my own CD. Writing is my “obsession,” so it was a perfect concept idea for this project.
C&I: How does this record stand out from your pop record, 11:11; your other country album, Throwback; and Kelly Lang Shades of “K”?
Lang: My CD 11:11 was a combination of a few of my own tunes, some cover songs, and some originals written by others. I was not given the opportunity at such a young age to prove my ability to be sole producer, which later inspired me to be more bold in speaking out about my decisions.
On Shades of “K” and Throwback, I produced them, but they were all cover tunes. I chose from my all-time favorite classic songs and put my own orchestrated twist on them. On Obsession, I lived every lyric and note and produced this CD as a confident full-grown woman. I took chances that I might not have taken as a younger and less-experienced artist, and it was super-fulfilling. I will say that I find that surrounding myself with more experienced talent than myself has been a reason for any success that I have had, and I would like to thank Buddy Hyatt for helping me find my vocal sound and confidence within these last few projects.
C&I: Any favorite stories about how certain songs came about?
Lang: I wrote a song called “Last One Standing in the Rain” about my dear friend Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees and the loss of his brothers. It is one of my favorites on the CD. Makes me cry each time I hear it and think of the loss he has endured.
Most every day I was in the pool writing, I noticed dragonflies would surround and land on me. I told my friend about this phenomenon and she told me that dragonflies are born in water and then begin to fly, just like my music. I included within the CD cover a picture of one of them on my finger.
C&I: Is there a specific song that your fans have really taken to? A song that you’re especially proud of?
Lang: I have had many people tell me that they are moved to tears when listening to “I’ll Just Hold My Breath.” It was written from a mother’s perspective about my daughters, but others have had a much different interpretation of it. I love to hear how my songs affect people in different ways.
C&I: Are there any songs that didn’t make it on the album that are on the list for the next?
Lang: A few maybe. It will be quite a while before a new project like this. It takes a lot out of me.
C&I: What can we expect in terms of touring?
Lang: I’ve got a few dates on the books and look forward to doing a lot of TV this year. One of the highlights will be performing with my husband at Graceland during Elvis Week [August 11–18].
C&I: What’s something that your fans might not know about you?
Lang: Funny, I feel like I’m an open book on social media ... and I kind of think people get tired of that sometimes. T.G. says it’s unusual that I take two or three baths a day, and most of the time my socks never match.
Watch Lang sing “Islands in the Stream” with husband T.G. Sheppard, off of their duet album, Iconic Duets.
For more information on Kelly Lang and her upcoming tour dates, visit her website.