The singer tells PEOPLE that he wants the carefully selected songs on his new record to evoke “summer vibes” and be relatable, much like the songs of Kenny Chesney, whom Lane opened for at a show in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in 2017.
“The way he connected not only with me but the rest of the crowd, I sat back there and had one of those moments that night,” Lane, 33, says. “This was before I started recording my record, but I had one of those moments that I thought, ‘Man, I want songs that connect with people the same way that he’s doing there.’”
“He’s the king of having music that takes you to a certain place in your life with happy memories, sad memories, whatever it is,” adds Lane. “I want songs that do that.”
Lane believes he achieved this goal through his new 14-track record, and he finally found the sound he was going for after a two-year hiatus between Girl Problems and Laps Around the Sun, which he recorded in studio with a full band.
“This time around, I knew exactly what I was going for and I just went for it,” Lane says. “I had two years to grow. I think people will definitely be able to see the growth just in the songwriting and the songs that I picked and how they evolved.”
Through song-selection, instrumentation and lyrics, the “Fix” singer shaped his album to be a summertime record that he hopes his fans will listen to while cooking out, camping or boating.
“Some of my best memories have happened in the summertime — on the beach and the lake and all that kind of stuff,” Lane says. “I just wanted songs that put me in that mindset and take me there. Hopefully when people hear the record, they can go to their happy place as well.”
One of the more playful songs on the record is “Drunk People,” which outlines a relationship between two people who have broken up but continue to see each other when they’re intoxicated.
“Drunk people do dumb things / They pick it up when the phone rings,” the Kernersville, North Carolina native sings in the song’s chorus. “Saying things that they don’t mean / Like ‘I want you back, the key’s under the mat.’”
“I’ve seen so many tweets of people saying, ‘This is the most relatable song I’ve ever heard,’” Lane tells PEOPLE. “That’s the same reason that I recorded it. As soon as I heard it, I was like, ‘Wow, this sounds like a song that’s about me.’”
“If I have too many tequila drinks, I always wake up the next morning like, ‘Why the heck did I try to FaceTime this person?’ or ‘Why did I text this person?’” Lane adds. “It makes no sense to me. I don’t know what I was thinking at that moment.”
However, some of the lighter songs on the album like “Drunk People,” the album’s title track “Laps Around the Sun,” which Lane was a writer on, and the fun breakup melody “New Phone” are balanced out with what Lane considers more “progressive” tracks. The single “I Don’t Know About You” is one of Lane’s favorites to play live, and has “one of the strongest choruses on the record.”
Lane also considers “Hero” to have a slightly different vibe because it is personal to his foundations and the way he grew up going to church every Sunday and Wednesday. “If you wanna feel something real / that this mean old world can’t kill / Not even Satan / There’s a savior, he’ll wash away your sins,” Lane sings in the bridge before closing out the song with a chorus that repeats “Jesus is a hero.”
“It’s one of those things that’s very important in my life and a message that I wanted to get out there,” Lane says. “I had never had a song that serious.”
Despite his rising popularity as one of the up and comers in country music, Lane still views himself as just a small-town boy with the same values he was raised on.
“I’m still the same exact guy,” Lane tells PEOPLE. “Just a few more people know my name now and I’m very thankful for that.”
Laps Around the Sun is available now.