Cole Swindell has expanded his career-defining Stereotype album with a new deluxe version titled Stereotype Broken, which includes a remix of “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” featuring Jo Dee Messina and three new songs: “Drinkaby,” “Sad Ass Country Song,” and “Broken.” During the 2023 ACM Awards, Swindell won Song of the Year and Single of the Year for “She Had Me At Heads Carolina.”

The “Never Say Never” singer sat down with Music Mayhem and other media to discuss Stereotype Broken Deluxe, his upcoming summer tour with Thomas Rhett, and why the past year has been one of the years of his life. With the three new tracks, Swindell says he “tried to cover a few bases that maybe we didn’t get to on the actual album.”

Cole Swindell; Photo Courtesy of Gilbert Flores for PMC
Cole Swindell; Photo Courtesy of Gilbert Flores for PMC

Stereotype Broken

This is the first deluxe album for Swindell, who wrote the track “Broken” with the deluxe version of Stereotype in mind.

He penned the tune with Hillary Lindsay, Cole Taylor and Chris LaCorte and shared the title idea of “Broken,” telling them “I know that sounds like you could be very sad or whatever, but maybe it’s a love song about a girl.” His original idea was around the concept that everyone has been broken somehow, but then the twist of the lyric comes in where Swindell tells his love interest “your heart wasn’t made to be broken” and that he is there to help with that.

“Drinkaby”

The singer-songwriter’s current single “Drinkaby” was an outside cut, written by HARDY, Jon Pardi, Hunter Phelps, and Jordan Schmidt. HARDY sang on the demo and Swindell was surprised that HARDY wasn’t recording it for himself, but thankful that it was open for him to cut.

“When I heard this song, I’m thinking about the Thomas Rhett tour. I’m thinking how big this summer’s going to be from the very first guitar lick. It’s just like, it just doesn’t let you go,” Swindell explained.

For Swindell, it’s a fun tune that is reminiscent of another artist’s catalog, saying it “reminded me of something like old Dierks [Bentley] music.” When he chose the song as the single, he pictured how it would fit into his set list. “Honestly all I was thinking about picking this is that man, if this is a hit by the time we roll into the Thomas Rhett tour with a show opener… I could see that opening up my show just from that first guitar lick.” Swindell admits that the song is probably not going to change the world, but that it will be “a heck of a show opener.” 

“Sad Ass Country Song”

The aptly named “Sad Ass Country Song” was the result of a writing session on the road with Matt Dragstrem, Joel Hutsell, and Josh Miller. Swindell says it’s one of his favorite intros to a song because he wrote it with one of his best friends, Hutsell, who has been his guitar player since day one.

“To have one with him that is our first cut together, that makes it even more special to me.” The group of songwriters had already penned three or four tunes when Swindell told them that he just wanted to write a sad ass country song, because he loves them. Sonically, he had been trying to capture this specific sound for years. “I’ve been trying to have a song that sounded like that for years, I feel like. And we finally nailed it.”

Cole Swindell; Photo Courtesy of iHeartRadio Music Awards/FOX
Cole Swindell; Photo Courtesy of iHeartRadio Music Awards/FOX

Reflecting on songs from the original Stereotype album, Swindell says that “Some Habits” has new meaning for him now. He recalled an interview that he did with radio personality Bobby Bones while he was single.

“I remember saying, I was like, this song is so me. I was like, everything but the love part. He’s like, what do you mean by that? And I was like, well, I’m just not quite at that part. I was like, everything else about this song, about not being perfect, all that. I was like, that is freaking me, every line of it,” Swindell said.

Fiancée Courtney Little Appear In His “Some Habits” Music Video

At that time, he had just met his now-fiancée Courtney Little. She appeared in the music video for “Some Habits,” which Swindell describes as their first date.

“We had been talking enough to where I knew if I didn’t have her in it, it would’ve probably never worked because it was a love song. And so that was our first time hanging out and we never looked back.” He often thinks about what if he had never heard that song, which ultimately led to his engagement. “What if that day on the golf course, if somebody wouldn’t have sent me that song? I was with a buddy and I played it, and he was too, was like, dang, I love that [and] I mean, what if I’d have never got sent that song? I might not be sitting here talking about her. Honestly, if I’d have never recorded the song, I wouldn’t have shot the video and chances of us meeting up and actually starting to date…”

Home Team Tour

Swindell is currently on the road with Thomas Rhett for the Home Team Tour 23, which hits 40 cities this summer before wrapping in Nashville, Tennessee on September 29. The last time the pair toured together was inspiring for Swindell, who watched Rhett write songs all day with writers he brought out on the road.

“I know I’m older than he is, but I’ve looked up to him for a long time,” says Swindell. “I cannot wait for this summer. We’re going to write a lot of songs, play some golf and make some fans happy.” It’s also his chance to pay it forward with newcomer Nate Smith. “That’s what I think is special about this genre. I think that’s how you say thank you is you just pass it on to the next one you believe in.”

Cole Swindell, Thomas Rhett; Photos by Andrew Wendowski
Cole Swindell, Thomas Rhett; Photos by Andrew Wendowski

“One Of The Best Years Of My Life”

Reflecting on the past year, Swindell says “it’s one of the best years of my life.” He feels blessed to have had the success he’s experienced. “To see how much changed in one year after almost 10 years of doing it is, I don’t know, just hopeful for the future.”

Swindell says that his duet with Lainey Wilson, “Never Say Never,” was the catalyst for change. ”I think we took some chances on this one and that song with Lainey and then have ‘She Had Me at Heads Carolina,’ it’s just changed a lot of things I feel like in a great way.”

New Music In The Works

Cole Swindell is already writing new music, including a song about his mom that is “one of the most special songs I’ve ever written.” He decided not to include it on Stereotype Broken because he felt like it deserved its own moment and that it could be the title of his next project. When asked if he enjoys performing or writing more, Swindell says he gets the same rush from both. He’s told songwriters, “This right here, this feeling of how we feel after that line. I was like, that’s exactly what it’s like being up in front of 20,000, whatever it is. That’s that feeling of just excitement and just pure joy loving what you’re doing. And that’s just crazy that I get to do both.”

Swindell says the reason he thinks people connect with his music and country music in general is because they feel like they’re not alone. “That’s why I fell in love with country music in the first place, knowing that one person, the person’s singing if they feel like I do.” Swindell wants people to know that he’s “just a normal dude” who gets to do what he loves every night. And when it comes to writing music, he’ll continue to try to connect with listeners, whether it’s happy or sad emotions. “I’m always going to try to open up and write about stuff, even if it’s hard.”

Cole Swindell Stereotype Broken Album Art
Cole Swindell Stereotype Broken Album Art

Stereotype Broken Track List

1) Sad Ass Country Song

2) Broken

3) Drinkaby

4) Stereotype

5) Every Beer

6) Never Say Never (with Lainey Wilson)

7) She Had Me At Heads Carolina

8) Sayin’ You Love Me

9) I’m Gonna Let Her

10)  Down To The Bar (featuring HARDY)

11)  How Is She

12)  Miss Wherever

13)  Single Saturday Night

14)  Some Habits

15)  Girls Go Crazy

16)  Walk On Whiskey

17)  She Had Me At Heads Carolina (Remix)

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Nicole Palsa is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee. Since 2012, she has written about the newcomers, superstars, and legends of country music for publications including Music Mayhem, Country Now, and Country Music Tattle Tale. Nicole has served as a volunteer guide with Musicians On Call since 2016 and is a Troubadour member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications and her Bachelor of Arts degree in French. In addition to being a devoted country music fan, Nicole is a family historian and genealogist who can often be found in stacks of research. She is also an avid traveler with a passion for wildlife and nature photography.

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