The past year has been a big one for Jeffery Allen Imler. After a long road to releasing his debut album, Another Shot, last February, the album has earned well over 100,000 streams, and has plenty of new eyes turned towards the Louisiana native.
Though he admittedly wasn’t feeling pressure to match that success with whatever project followed, he may have just released his best single yet with March’s “Cowgirl Don’t Ride Away,” a tune that sounds like a sure hit missed by George Strait that doubles down on Imler storytelling and twang he injected into Another Shot.
As he prepares to hit the road for a radio tour to promote his new single, we caught up with Imler to talk about the success of Another Shot, all about “Cowgirl Don’t Ride Away,” his big plans for his next project and more!
Pro Country: Your debut album, Another Shot, earned over 130,000 streams combined on Spotify. Given that it was your debut release and it was a long road to its release, what was it like to see the success you had with the album?
Jeffery Allen Imler: It was surprising, I can tell you that. I was releasing music and nobody really knew who I was. I don’t really have a marketing team or a promoter that’s out there promoting me on the charts, so for all of that to come without that kind of backing behind it was surprising. It’s humbling as well. it kind of lit a fire underneath me to keep at it. It’s one of those things where you wait to see the fruits of your labor, and you’ve been working hard for years and you haven’t seen anything, then you just throw something out there on a long shot and something like that happens. It gives you a little pat on your shoulder and a feather in your hat [laughs].
PC: As someone who tried to write in Nashville circles for a while, and eventually decided to return home to release the music you wanted to release, what does that success say about that decision and the music you’re making?
JAI: What it shows me is that people connect more with what you connect to yourself. Anybody can go out there and write what Nashville wants them to write, but I think people connect more with what you feel inside and how you present that. People connect with the truth.
PC: “Girl I Need to Know” has earned nearly 40,000 streams itself. What do you think it is about that song that connected with listeners the way it did?
JAI: I had some people telling me that that was a pretty strong song. The guy that I wrote that song about was telling me not to release it, but I finally talked him into letting me release it. To do what it did, it’s really surprising, because it wasn’t one of my personal favorites. It wasn’t written about a situation about me, but I could really understand it because I went through a similar situation myself. It was pretty much a story about a girl leading him on, and when it came down to the wire, she had too much baggage and history and kept messing around with another fella. She had a good guy right there in front of her, and she just couldn’t see it through all the mess.
PC: Is there a level of pressure you were feeling, internally or externally, to match or surpass the success of the Another Shot album with its follow up single, “Cowgirl Don’t Ride Away”?
JAI: I try not to put a bunch of pressure on myself. I try to just release things that feel authentic to me, and I feel like if it feels good to me, that feeling usually doesn’t lie. If you have your reservations, there’s probably a reason; your gut instincts are going to tell you. I don’t put a whole bunch of pressure on myself, I just write what I feel, put it out there and I hope it has the right sound and feel to it. My producer, Buddy Hyatt, has done a great job of capturing the emotion I’m trying to put into a song. He gets some of the best pickers in town to play on them. He’ll get Brent Mason to play lead guitar and Mike Johnson or Paul Sanders to play steel. It’s a really great team that automatically knows where to go with the sound. All of those things combined make me feel a lot less pressure when I get into the studio to release something because I know I’ve got the best people behind me.
PC: Why did you feel that “Cowgirl Don’t Ride Away” was the right follow up to Another Shot?
JAI: That song is about as country as I can get [laughs]. That song is a true story that a really good buddy of mine that I wrote it with, Jacob Howard, went through. Long story short, he was starting to get this gut instinct that this girl that he was dating was getting on the fence about the relationship. He’s a very prideful guy like a lot of us country boys are, and we don’t say what we really feel without loosening up with a little bit of alcohol [laughs]. In the long run, it ended up costing them the relationship. It took him for a loop, but sure enough, she ended up leading him out to the pasture. It was a situation where I kind of went through his break up with him, and I felt every bit of what he’d been through because I’d been through it myself. That was his first real heartbreak experience. When we were writing it, one thing piled on top of the other, and he just kept saying that’s exactly how he was feeling. I told him that not a lot of people are going to relate to him being a singer/songwriter, and that we should put it into a situation that more people could relate to, and that’s why we chose the rodeo scene. We thought that made it more relatable.
PC: When we’ve talked in the past year or so, you’ve mentioned that you’re working on your next project. What information can you give about the project, and what can listeners expect to hear?
JAI: Kendall Shaffer and I are doing a radio tour all this week, so we probably have about 15 or 20 stops by the end of the week. Before we set off on that, we kind of sat down and did a count of how many songs I’ve written by myself, and it’s probably been about 30 songs that I’ve written since Covid hit that we think are keepers. What I’m planning to do is book a session in Nashville to do about 20 or so songs, and then from there, I’ll pull which ones I think are going to be the best quality songs. I’m thinking about putting a fairly large album together and releasing it sometime next year. It’s always a work in progress, and I don’t really ever put timelines on it because I don’t like to rush things, so I’m just kind of laying back and letting it take its course. When it’s the right time, everything usually seems to fall in place.
PC: Along with the new music and the radio tour, of the things you can control, what are your plans for the rest of 2021?
JAI: I’ve got a festival that’s coming up, and there’s some private and local gigs coming up as well. I’ve also got a big benefit coming up down here in Louisiana that’s a fundraiser put on by a buddy of mine down here whose daughter passed away suddenly. He’s put together this college fund foundation to help people, and he’s asked us to come down with Tim Culpepper, Dustin Sonnier and some other folks in the area. It’s a great lineup, and it’s a guy that really appreciates traditional country music. I’m really excited to play that show. I’ve kind of been holding back with playing too many shows, because Covid took half of my band away. They had to go and get actual jobs, and it took some of them out of state. I’m actually putting things together now, and I’ll tell you, I never believed it would be so hard to get pickers together [laughs]. Even Sammy Kershaw is looking for a guitar player right now. It’s been something.
PC: Is there anything you’d like to add?
JAI: I really appreciate all of the support and helping grow this thing. If anybody wants to go out and check out the music, you can head over to iTunes or Spotify and all of those streaming sites. If you’re a true country music fan that likes that traditional style, I’d definitely appreciate people giving it a listen!
*”Cowgirl Don’t Ride Away” is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*
**Read our first interview with Jeffery here**