Pat Green returned to familiar turf with the release of his new album, Home: the top five on Billboard's country albums chart.
This time around, though, the singer-songwriter went the independent route, after years of playing the major-record-label game. From its simple title to its wood-floor cover design and straightforward, down-home approach, Home is an earnest effort.
"Any time you get one of the top five records in the country, it feels great," Green says in a recent phone interview. "It certainly shows that we did a lot of work in the right places. I'm proud of the record. I think it sounds great. I think it really represents who and what I am right now."
Green performs a free concert -- along with rock band Relient K -- on Saturday afternoon at Simpson Drill Field as part of the pregame festivities for Texas A&M's home opener at the renovated Kyle Field.
Home has several notable moments, including the gritty Bet Yo Mama and the feel-good tracks Break It Back Down and I'll Take This House. The album features Girls From Texas, Green's sly 2014 duet with A&M grad Lyle Lovett.
The second single, While I Was Away, packs an emotional punch. Singer-songwriter Zane Williams penned the track, which examines all that can be missed by those who work away from home. (Country star Carrie Underwood tweeted "I cried" after hearing the song in July.)
"Quite frankly, it was one of those things that elicited such a strong response out of me and my wife, that it was like, 'Man, I have to record that,'" Green recalls. "'I have to do it.'"
The title track is a sort of microcosm of Green's career: emerging as a Texas country talent, becoming a major-label star, and then returning to his roots.
"I was ready to take on the world/I thought it was nothing but money and pretty girls," he sings. "I was blind to the game, I sang the wrong song and disappeared for way too long/But I've finally found my way home."
"I don't think there's any songwriter that would look back at 20 years of making music that doesn't think there are a few songs out there that he wouldn't have done, or would have done different," Green says. "But overall, I'm very, very happy with this career, a lifetime in music. I'm glad to be doing it the way I'm doing it right now, which is on my own."
Expect some new tracks with Green's old favorites onstage Saturday. Green is a Texas Tech graduate, but he is well versed in all things Aggie after two decades of playing concerts here. He has two sisters who attended A&M, he says, and he attended a few Aggie football games before he "started working on the weekends" as a musician.
"I thought it was interesting about the standing," he says of the 12th Man. "I sure thought it was cool that you could feel the ground literally shaking. … The tradition that y'all have at Texas A&M certainly is larger than 99.999 percent of the rest of the world."