It’s one thing to find success, but it’s another thing entirely to sustain it. Ever since his stint on season nine of The Voice, James Dupré’s stock has been on a steady rise; a rise that has recently culminated in the release of his third album, Home and Away, released in early October.
After setting out to release a sonically pleasing album, Dupré gave listeners their first taste with “Another Love Song,” the album’s lead single, which has since earned well over one million streams on Spotify alone. Having a hand in writing 11 of the album’s 12 tracks, Dupré feels Home and Away is the truest reflection of his artistry, and it’s a damn good one.
We chatted with Dupré about the success he’s earned over the last five years, internal pressure to match that success with Home and Away, many of the songs on the album and more!
Pro Country: You released your debut album, Stoned to Death, in 2016, and the title track has earned well over a million streams and landed on Billboard’s Indicator chart. Was there a level of validation that came with being able to tangibly see the song’s success, especially since you were just coming off of a run on The Voice?
James Dupré: Yes, definitely. When my time on the show came to an end, I knew that I had to hit the ground running and keep that momentum going. You sorta feel like a failure if you have all of that exposure and do nothing with it. “Stoned” was my career-first radio single, and it felt so great to have success on the charts with it.
PC: After the success of both the “Stoned to Death” single and album, is there a level of pressure you were feeling, internally or externally, as you were preparing to release its follow up single, “Another Love Song” and your new album Home and Away?
JD: I think the pressure that I was feeling was all internal, which is usually the case for me. Most of the pressure comes because I take a lot of pride in my music and songwriting, and want it to succeed. When it came time to release Home and Away, “Another Love Song” had been successful and I wanted the rest of the album to have that same feel and quality. I love how it came out; it’s something to be proud of.
PC: What went into the decision to release “Another Love Song” as the lead single to Home and Away? What has seeing the great streaming/radio response meant to you?
JD: I loved the energy of the song, and felt like it was the right time to release a song like that. It became my highest charting single and most streamed song. Why or how that happened, I’m not sure, but I love seeing the response. It was exciting moving forward with the album knowing we were starting on a high note.
PC: “You’re Probably Drunk Right Now” was the second single release from Home and Away. Why did you feel it was the right follow up to “Another Love Song” and have it serve as the lead track on the album?
JD: That was a song I had written long before any other song on the album, and I’d always believed it would be a great radio single. When I was arranging the order of songs for the album, I just tried putting them in chronological order of when they were written. It flowed perfectly, and “You’re Probably Drunk Right Now” felt like the perfect opening track.
PC: “Higher High” is the only song on Home and Away that you didn’t have a hand in writing. What was it about the song that drew you to cut it?
JD: “Higher High” was written by Jared Hicks and Oran Thornton, some songwriter friends from Missouri. Jared sends me songs all the time, and when he sent me “Higher High,” I immediately told him I wanted to cut it. I felt like it was a song I would’ve loved to write on, it just felt like me. It took a few years but I finally cut it and love having it as the only outside song on the album.
PC: “A Thing Like That” is one of only two solo writes on Home and Away. Can you talk about the inspiration behind that song?
JD: I had this image of me playing a show on the beach, and I wanted to have it become a part of a story. That story ended up being a love story, and I really love how it developed as I wrote it. I remember not having the title or hook until after the first verse and chorus were pretty much written, and then just like that, it changed the entire story. I enjoyed that one.
PC: “Home and Away” closes its album, and is a song you wrote with Greg Bates. What went into the decision to have the song close its album, and why did you decide to make it the title track?
JD: “Home and Away” was one of my most recent songs, and I was really feeling good about it. I was playing it out at writers’ nights and getting great responses. Once Covid hit, I had already made up my mind that it was going on the album. As we were going through the new socially distanced process of making a record, we were all staying home and wishing we were away. It just made sense to me to make it the title track.
PC: Do you have a favorite song on Home and Away? If so, why is it so special to you?
JD: I think I feel closest to “I Pulled It Off.” It was the first song I had written after moving to Nashville, and it was a solo write. I was missing Louisiana a lot, and the road names and other things were referencing places back home in my mind. I played it live at my hometown festival the first time and got a huge response.
PC: What do you hope listeners take away from Home and Away after listening all the way through?
JD: I hope that listeners feel like this is an easy album to listen to from beginning to end. I set out to create something that was pretty on the ears, with strings, steel guitar and good writing.
PC: You toured with The Music of Randy Travis Tour in 2019. What was it like to be hand-picked by Randy and Mary Travis to sing on the tour? What was the experience of playing those iconic songs with Randy’s band like for you?
JD: It was a huge honor and a surreal experience. When rehearsals started and I met the whole band, and we started playing the first song, it sounded so damn good and real. To be singing one hit Randy Travis song after another, songs I grew up on, while he’s sitting there on the side of the stage watching me, is just a feeling I can’t describe. And to add a cherry on top of cherries, one of the tour stops was the Ryman Auditorium. What a magical night that was.
PC: Of the things you can control, what are your plans for 2021?
JD: I plan to focus on my family first and foremost, and to tour, tour, tour. I can’t wait to get out on the road and play these songs. I have a few other ideas as well. Maybe a concept album. Maybe a Christmas EP? We shall see!
*James’ music is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*
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