‘Shake What God Gave Ya’ with James Otto at Hollywood CasinoWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
James Otto is ready for 2013.
“I always have goals for the new year just like everybody else: Lose more weight, all of the typical things you want to do, but making a great record is really super-high on my list,” he said.
During a call from Nashville, the country singer-songwriter dropped a few hints about what to expect with the new disc.
“There’ll be some [country soul] on there, but this one has more of a, going back to my first album, ‘Days of Our Lives,’ more of a slight country rock feel,” he said.
Otto added he’ll play a couple new tunes at a free concert set for 9 p.m. Jan. 5 in the Hollywood Casino H Lounge.
Odds are fans will get up and dance.
“‘Shake What God Gave Ya’ is one of the best live songs that I have,” he said. “It’s one of the most fun songs for everybody involved — for the band, for the audience — because it’s time to let loose and forget about everything else in the world.”
That good time number is the title track from Otto’s 2010 CD, which included “Groovy Little Summer Song.”
Of course, the bearded hunk is known for his hit, “Just Got Started Lovin’ You,” the No. 1 country single of 2008, according to Billboard.
“As writers, we all love our songs right after they’re finished because they’re kind of your babies, but you don’t know what they’re going to do in the world once you send them out there. I had no idea it was going to be such a humungous hit,” Otto said of his break-through smash.
The guitarist started writing when he moved to Nashville in 1997.
“I ended up hanging out with John Rich [of Big & Rich] a whole bunch, and John Rich was also friends with another friend of mine, Cory Gierman, another one of the godfathers of MuzikMafia,” Otto recalled. “I was one of the original five guys that played the first MuzikMafias, and it really kind of became this really neat thing.
“It was a collective; it was a bunch of artists working together and pooling their talents together to make something more than when they were on their own.”
That jamming led to camaraderie and co-writing.
Otto and Wyatt Durrette offered “No Hurry” to Zac Brown, who made the track his own and recorded it with his band. The song shot to No. 2 on Billboard’s country chart this year.
“In Color” was penned by Otto, Lee Thomas Miller and Jamey Johnson; Johnson released it and had his first top 10 hit in 2008.
“My record was already finished and getting ready to go to stores when we wrote that song,” Otto said. “I don’t know that anybody else could have delivered ‘In Color’ as well as Jamey did.”
Otto and Chris Janson co-wrote “Holding Her.”
“It’s a song about our daughters and about becoming a dad. It’s such a personal song for both of us. It was one of those that was hard to let go, and I said, ‘Yeah, I guess you can cut it, and I’ll try to write something else.’ ”
Another of Otto’s goals for next year?
“I want to spend as much time with my daughter [2-year-old Ava] as I possibly can,” he said.