ERNEST To 'Legalize Country Music' With Morgan Wallen, Jelly Roll, Others

By Kelly Fisher

April 12, 2024

Photo: Getty Images

ERNEST released his long-awaited, massive sophomore album to kick off the weekend on Friday (April 12). NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, a tribute to the country singer-songwriter’s hometown that’s packed with star-studded collaborations, arrives shortly after ERNEST announced his mayoral campaign with a priority to “legalize country music.”

“I was born and raised in Nashville,” the 2024 ACM New Male Artist of the Year and Artist-Songwriter of the Year nominee said in a statement on Friday. “I love this city, it's the country music capital of the world, and this album is a positive affirmation in the name of country music. That country at its core, the songwriting and storytelling, is popular again.”

ERNEST announced earlier this week that he’s marking his album’s release with a free performance in Music City, hosted at Yee-Haw Brewing Co., at 6th and Peabody. The first-come, first-served show kicks off at 8 p.m. The CMA Triple Play Award winner play songs “fresh off the new album, and encouraged fans to “show up ready to party.” The pop-up opens at 11 a.m., per his announcement earlier this week.

The 26-track, Joey Moi-produced collection — with artwork captured by his wife, Delaney Royer — includes collaborations with Jelly RollLukas NelsonMorgan WallenLainey WilsonHARDY, plus a live-recorded performance of “Twinkle Twinkle” with ERNEST’s nearly 3-year-old son, Ryman Saint. ERNEST previously released “I Went To College / I Went To Jail,” with Jelly Roll, “Ain't As Easy,” “Why Dallas” with Lukas Nelson, “How'd We Get Here,” “Kiss of Death,” “Slow Dancing In A Burning Room” and “Ain't Too Late.”

  1. “I Went To College / I Went To Jail (feat. Jelly Roll)” (Ernest Keith Smith, Chandler Paul Walters, Rivers Rutherford, Luke Bryan)
  2. “Ain't As Easy” (Ernest Keith Smith, Dean Dillon, Jessie Jo Dillon, Chandler Paul Walters)
  3. “Why Dallas (feat. Lukas Nelson)” (Ernest Keith Smith, Chandler Paul Walters, Grady Block, Jordan Merrigan, Lukas Nelson)
  4. “One More Heartache” (Ernest Keith Smith, Chandler Paul Walters, Jessie Jo Dillon, Dean Dillon)
  5. “Hangin' On (feat. Morgan Wallen)” (Ernest Keith Smith, Grady Block, Rhys Rutherford, Jacob Durrett, Rafe Tenpenny)
  6. “Did It For The Story” (Ernest Keith Smith, John Byron, Ryan Vojtesak, Blake Pendergrass)
  7. “How'd We Get Here” (Ernest Keith Smith)
  8. “Never Said I Love You” (Ernest Keith Smith, Chandler Paul Walters)
  9. “Would If I Could (feat. Lainey Wilson)” (Dean Dillon, Donald Ewing II)
  10. “Honkytonk Fairytale” (Ernest Keith Smith, Rafe Tenpenny, Dallas Wilson, Brad Clawson)
  11. “Smokin' Gun” (Ernest Keith Smith, Rhys Rutherford, Grady Block, Ryan Vojtesak, Blake Pendergrass)
  12. Twinkle Twinkle (Live At Fenway Park) [feat. Ryman Saint]” (Jane Taylor)
  13. “Life Goes On” (Ernest Keith Smith, Ashley Gorley, Ryan Vojtesak)
  14. “If You Don't Know By Now” (Clint Daniels, Dale Dodson)
  15. “You Don't Have To Die” (Clint Ingersoll, Chris Stapleton)
  16. “Redneck Sh*ttt” (Ernest Keith Smith, Mark Holman, Nicolle Galyon)
  17. “Small Town Goes” (Ernest Keith Smith, Grady Block, Cody Lohden, Ryan Vojtesak, Chandler Paul Walters)
  18. “Kiss Of Death” (Ernest Keith Smith, Andy Albert, Ryan Vojtesak)
  19. “Slow Dancing In A Burning Room” (John Clayton Mayer)
  20. “Ain't Too Late” (Ernest Keith Smith, Grady Block, Chandler Paul Walters, Jordan Merrigan, Cody Lohden)
  21. “Sayin' You Love Me” (Ernest Keith Smith, Mark Holman, James McNair)
  22. “Summertime Flies” (Ernest Keith Smith, Rafe Tenpenny, Grady Block, Jacob Durrett, Ross Portaro)
  23. “Ain't Right Ain't Wrong” (Ernest Keith Smith, Rhys Rutherford, Ryan Vojtesak)
  24. “Creep (feat. HARDY)” (Colin Greenwood, Jonathan Greenwood, Albert Hammond, Michael Hazlewood, Edward O'Brien, Philip Selway, Thomas Yorke)
  25. “Bars On My Heart” (Ernest Keith Smith, Mark Holman, Nicolle Galyon)
  26. “Dollar To Cash” (Ernest Keith Smith, Grady Block, Rafe Tenpenny, Brett Tyler)

ERNEST announced his sophomore album one day after staging a press conference to announce his mayoral campaign. He said in that video:

“My fellow Nashvillians, I’m addressing our community not because I want to, but because I have to. Over the years, there have been many changes to my hometown in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s important to ask ourselves: how’d we get here? We’ve had movements such as Western Swing, Outlaw, Red Dirt, even the likes of Bro Country. Heroes such as Willie NelsonLoretta LynnGeorge Strait (and) George Jones paved the way for artists like myself. We owe it to them to continue what they started. As our community continues to grow, we shall always remember our founding fathers and welcome our new brothers and sisters into our circle. Whether you went to college or jail, or you’re just looking for a honky tonk fairy tale, or barely hanging on, all country music fans are welcome. In order to keep leading the genre that made me, we must legalize country music. But we need someone with the authority to do so. That’s why I’m standing here today, proudly announcing that I am running for Mayor of Nashville, Tennessee. As I begin my campaign, my first act will be releasing my new album on April 12. It’s called Nashville, Tennessee. In preparation for that, I’ll give you five songs which will be available everywhere tonight. My name’s Ernest Keith Smith, and I approve this message.”

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE follows ERNEST’s FLOWER SHOPS (THE ALBUM): Two Dozen Roses, a 24-track extended edition that arrived last year. Find ERNEST on iHeartRadio here.

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