Ronnie Milsap Dips Into His Soulful Roots for New Album, ‘A Better Word for Love’
Ronnie Milsap will return in 2021 with A Better Word for Love, a 10-track collection that's emblematic of the genre-blurring, R&B-inflected country music that the singer has been known for ever since his breakout hits in the early '70s.
The new collection is made up of songs that Milsap has known and loved over the years, but for whatever reason, they've never quite found a home on any of his albums. Hit songwriters such as Al Anderson, Mike Reid, Gary Nicholson and many others are all credited as writers on A Better Word for Love.
Together with his longtime producer Rob Galbraith, Milsap embarked on the project at Nashville's Ronnie's Place, his namesake studio, which has been a mainstay of the city's Music Row for more than half a century and was also once owned by Roy Orbison.
"I have been blessed to work with some of the very best songwriters in the world," Milsap remarks. "Over the years, they've kept bringing me unbelievable songs, and in some cases, they've let me hang onto them because I loved them so much. When Rob and I started this project a few years ago, we decided some of those songs were so special ... We wanted to build this album around them."
One song on the project, "Big Bertha," has a particularly special backstory. That song was penned by Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer Carl Perkins, the rockabilly legend known for his prolific recording career at Sun Studios. "Big Bertha" was the last song that Perkins ever wrote, and his widow gifted it to Milsap to record.
On the recording of "Big Bertha" featured in A Better Word for Love, Milsap punctuates the special moment by inviting fellow country legend Vince Gill to join him on the track.
"Singing a song about a golf club without Vince Gill just didn't feel right," the singer jokes. "And he was able to bring that thing he does like nobody else to Carl's song. Somewhere I think he's smiling."
The tracklist also includes one live performance: "Civil War" was recorded during a 1993 performance at Atlanta, Ga.'s Chastain Park and features Milsap's longtime touring band.
A Better Word for Love is due for release on April 30.