Yes, Brad finally announced on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Wednesday night that his new album (due April 9th) is going to be titled ‘Wheelhouse’.
Well, after singing the first two verses and chorus to my boyfriend in vocals as deliberately out of tune as I could muster, in celebration of the exciting news, I had a think about the title, because all titles mean something, even if it’s obvious.
‘Wheelhouse’ is in the first line of Brad’s first single from the album and also his current single, ‘Southern Comfort Zone’: “When the old wheelhouse is the land of cotton, the first time you leave, it can be strange, it can be shocking”(resisting the temptation to sing it again, it’s just so damn catchy). And if we think about Brad’s approach to the album, he’s already talked about how every sound, every instrument on the album, has been played by them. No messing about with computers, no replicating the same sonic unit that features in half of the recordings currently coming out of Nashville, no, for Brad this time around, it was a thing of aesthetics, of getting back to basics. I spent some time researching the term of ‘Wheelhouse’, looking for an apt definition. Many talk of its nautical reference, the location of the steering wheel on a boat or ship, a nautical bridge. However, it also relates to a comfort zone (according to Wikipedia), which is what ‘Southern Comfort Zone’ is about, but to title the album in this way, is almost an oxymoron because Brad has explained that he stepped out of his comfort zone for this. And really, that’s also what the single is about. Stepping out of your comfort zone. Thinking about it, it is a very good idea as a first single.
Also, apparently a wheelhouse can refer to “The portion of the building in a Watermill that contains the Waterwheel or gears to power the millstone” (again, Wikipedia, sorry). This is interesting because the thought of a simpler time, a more basic life, relates to Brad’s ethos for this album, and more importantly, the idea of manual labor. Because that’s what making the album was, pure manual labor.
Now you don’t get a lot of album titles that are as thought-out as that, do you?