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Nichols brings new slower sound to stage

Joe Nichols is one hot young country stud.

With the success of his first single, "The Impossible," — and its follow-up, "Brokenheartsville," Nichols cemented his place as — the biggest new star on country's horizon.

But the question hung in the air like dense fog. Could — he do it again?

Nichols has more than answered with a resounding yes. — His first single off the new CD, "Revelation," titled "The Shade" sets — the tone for this most unusual recording.

It is not unusual in the fact that just about every song — on the CD is a winner, it is unusual in that it is very ballad heavy. — And it also does not have a high energy uptempo song on the CD.

"We thought about that when we put it out," Nichols said — from a tour stop in Ohio. "It has done well for us so far. I think certain — people have concerns about certain things because they are worried about — the business part of it. As far as production, Brent Rowan (the producer) — and myself thought we would come out with the 11 best songs that suit — me."

Several songs from "Revelations," as well as all of Nichols — earlier hits, will be featured in his concert at the Josephine County — Fair, Wednesday night in Grants Pass.

"The Shade" is a perfect mid to late summer song and reminds — the listener of years gone by.

"Everybody loves that song. It starts the CD off great," — Nichols said. "It is not necessarily a ballad. It is mellow but it is — a great song. The production is much like the song says. 'The shade comes — free with the tree.' It is a very mellow, very relaxing song and that — is where the production is."

"The Impossible" was one of the biggest hits of 2002 and — 2003. Nichols' CD "Man With a Memory" rose nearly as fast as the single. — Nichols knew he had something special when he recorded the CD and the — song.

"I know that we put out music that we wanted to buy," — he said. "Whether we succeeded or failed, we were going to do it with — our own style. We knew it was pretty good music."

"'The Impossible' struck me just because it sounded like — my life," he said. "I didn't necessarily think of it as a radio hit but — as something I could sing every word of and believe 100 percent of it."

Nichols said he grew up listening to stuff from a long — time ago, and they haven't forgotten the sound, the style.

I listened to a lot of Merle and Hank Williams Jr.," he — said. "That was the kind of stuff, along with George Strait, that I listened — to growing up. I guess it is a little bit unintentional but it was just — what I grew up listening to and it is what comes out naturally.

"Growing up in Rogers, Ark., we listened to traditional — country music. We put out an album that is traditional, it worked and — we are going to stay with it as long as we can. We are never going to — do anything except for traditional country music."

At 19, Nichols secured a record deal on Intersound Records — before the label folded. After that, he endured the usual round of Nashville — jobs that most aspiring young country singers hold down, from moving furniture — to installing cable TV systems to selling steaks door to door.

In 1999, he met studio guitarist Brent Rowan, who ultimately — produced Nichols' 2002 album "Man With a Memory," the first project from — the Universal South imprint.

Now, he is getting the best material from the best writers — in Nashville, plus writing some great songs. And he knows what makes a — great song in his mind and heart.

"Believability is very important," he said. "If the song — suits me, is something I have lived or done, then it is going to be believable — from me. Conway Twitty was the best at delivering a song because he believed — every word of every song he sang."