After landing two releases in the Top 10 of Billboard’s country albums chart on his own CoJo label and selling 74,000 tickets for a single show, to earn recognition as the only unsigned artist in history to sell out NRG Stadium at RodeoHouston, one of Texas’ most-sought-after talents finally agreed to sign with a major label. Warner Music Nashville won a Music Row sweepstakes and enticed Johnson – who’d turned down several majors before – to join the team and take a shot at turning a concert success story into one with multimedia, national hit-making cred.
In 2018, Johnson won Texas Regional Radio’s Male Vocalist again, while adding Album of the Year for Gotta Be Me and Single, for “Wild As You.” By then, he had already completed work on Ain’t Nothin’ to It with longtime producer Trent Willmon, a fellow singer/songwriter who authored hits for Montgomery Gentry and Steel Magnolia. Nothin’ purposely shows the full range of Johnson’s talents, from the acoustic tack of “Fenceposts” to the ultra-sexy “Nothin’ On You” to the rockin’ country blues of “Honky Tonk Mood.” Particularly revealing are his vocal performances on the thoughtful, album-launching title track and in “On My Way To You,” the classic-country ballad that emerged as the first single. Johnson delivers both with a conversational tone, but creates a dramatic arc through flourishes of raw power at just the right emotional moment. He delivered all of the album’s vocals in a scant two days, treating each song as if it were part of a concert. The intensity and the directness of those performances supports the no-nonsense attitude Johnson brings to the stage – and to his life.
Now, one of country’s most-sought-after, formerly unsigned musicians is matched with one of Nashville’s most influential labels, at his peak with a traditionally-built sound just as country music is experiencing a ‘90s revolution. Cody Johnson was a hold out for all the right reasons. And now he’s part of a team, again for all the right reasons.