Rodney Atkins connects “the ground and the sky” on “Caught Up in the Country”

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Caught Up in the Country is the first new album from Rodney Atkins in nearly eight years. Its top-20 lead single is also the Tennessee native's first significant hit since 2011's chart-topping "Take a Back Road."

Rodney says "Caught Up in the Country" has one particular element you'll always find in his biggest hits.

"One of the criteria that I look for in songs -- as I'm writing songs and as I'm listening to outside songs," he explains, "I always try to find some connection between the ground and the sky."

"'Watching You,' for example, is about cussin' and prayin'," Rodney continues. "'If You're Going Through Hell,' obviously. 'These Are My People' had 'it ain't always pretty but it's real.' 'Take a Back Road' is that. And 'Caught Up in the Country' exactly talks about that."

"Caught Up in the Country" includes a guest appearance by Nashville's world-famous Fisk Jubilee Singers, thanks to a show Rodney did at the Mother Church of Country Music.

"I had just done an event with the Fisk Jubilee Singers -- a bunch of kids from Fisk University -- at the Ryman Auditorium," he tells ABC Radio. "And they just lit me up, man."

"They were clappin', singin', dancin'. And it seemed like a great fit if I could figure out how to put those two things together. And man, they killed it."

Caught Up in the Country is out now.

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