Seasons Changethe third studio release from country singer and one-time American Idol winner Scotty McCreery, has been a long time in the making -- about five years, to be exact. McCreery's evolution as a country star has been anything but straightforward. In a recent interview, The Boot caught up with McCreery to discuss his upcoming album, released on Friday (March 16), and the long road that lead to Seasons Change.

In 2011, McCreery seemed poised for megastardom: He won the TV singing competition, signed to Universal Music Group Nashville and released his debut album, Clear as Day, to commercial and critical acclaim. In 2013, his sophomore project, See You Tonightnetted McCreery his first Top 10 radio hit, the single of the same name. Success proved elusive for McCreery, however, as he headed into writing songs for his third record, and he was dropped from his label.

As the dust settled following his breakup with UMG Nashville, the country star found himself unable to share new music with his fans in 2016: "There was a lot of legal stuff to figure out," McCreery recalls about that period of his career. "Lots of phone calls with attorneys. I was signed to three labels, so when one drops you, there's still three more to figure out. It was a January through December sort of thing.

"It's nice to be able to look back now and laugh about it," he adds, "because at the time I sure couldn't."

It's a lot of non-fiction. I'm at a great point in my life right now, so it's a very feel-good record.

During this time, McCreery never stopped writing; in fact, it was in 2015 that he wrote the song that would later turn out to be a career-making single as well as his personal favorite: "Five More Minutes."

"We really got exactly what we wanted out of that song as far as what we wanted to get across," McCreery says. "I wanted to hit all those points that everybody's lived: Everybody remembers growing up and going to school. Everybody remembers having that person that you wish you could have a little more time with. Everybody remembers having that loved one that you miss after they're gone, as you're going through life. That's a universal thing."

McCreery wanted to release the song as a single right away, but he was still signed to UMG, and the introspective ballad wasn't the catchy party song that the label thought would perform well on country radio.

"When we transitioned away from the label, I still wanted it to be a single, but it took a while to get it back from them," McCreery explains. "Once we did, I knew we were going to go with that song as the single."

Scotty McCreery Seasons Change album cover
Triple Tigers Records

The singer performed "Five More Minutes" to a standing ovation at the Grand Ole Opry in June of 2016, racking up over 2 million views on YouTube, but wasn't able to release the song as a single until just under a year later. When he did, with the help of attention from nationally syndicated radio personality Bobby Bones as well as other radio stations, McCreery became the only country artist in history to have a charting single without the backing of a label.

"Once that started happening, we started having conversations with labels," McCreery recalls. He eventually chose to sign with Triple Tigers Records: "I wanted a label that was really fired up about me, and fired up about music," he continues. "[Triple Tigers] and I had the same goals and ideas. They believed in me, and they believed in "Five More Minutes," just like I did. They believed in some of the other music we were working on."

While "Five More Minutes" is likely the most personal song on the album, Seasons Change is, as the title suggests, an autobiographical snapshot of McCreery's development as an artist as an as a man.

"A lot of the songs have a big personal tie-in for me. I'm telling a lot of my own stories," McCreery says. ""This is It" is my fiancee and my story, for example. It's our engagement story, at least. "Boys From Back Home" is about me and my friends, me and my guys.

"It's a lot of non-fiction," he adds. "I'm at a great point in my life right now, so it's a very feel-good record."

McCreery began his career as a teenager, and as he grows up, his fanbase is growing along with him: "We definitely have that core group that's been there from the beginning, and they've never wavered, and they are awesome, awesome, awesome," he says. "But with this new music, with "Five More Minutes" and a few other songs, we're starting to get recognized by people who might not have heard my music before -- or, shoot, people who've forgotten about me because I haven't had music on the radio for so long," he adds with a laugh.

Seasons Change is a culmination of the past five years of McCreery's life, and the country star says he can't wait to finally share the songs with his fans.

"We started writing in 2013, honestly. As soon as we put one record out we were looking through songs for the next one," he says. "It's been a blast writing my story, and I can't wait for folks to hear it."

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