Thomas Rhett Reveals How His Girls Helped Him Choose His Tracklist: 'Kids Have a Really Good Read'

Thomas Rhett's sixth studio album Where We Started is out Friday

Thomas Rhett
Thomas Rhett and wife Lauren Akins and daughters (left to right) Lennon Love, Ada James, Lillie Carolina and Willa Gray. Photo: katelyn brown/@katelynbrownphoto

With over 40 songs to choose from to make the final cut of his new album, Thomas Rhett decided to go to his most trusted sources for feedback: his family.

Speaking to PEOPLE about his sixth studio album Where We Started, set for release on Friday, the "Country Again" singer revealed how he narrowed down the tracklist to his "favorite" album he's made thus far.

"I was alone with my thoughts in 2020 and wrote a lot of songs, just me and the guitar and I wanted to write some more things that made my kids smile and made my kids want to dance," Thomas Rhett, 32, says of the album's inspiration.

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In order to accomplish his goal — he went straight to the source: his four daughters Willa Gray, 6, Ada James, 4, Lennon Love, 2, and Lillie Carolina, 4 months, whom he shares with wife Lauren Akins, 32.

"I started playing the record and I kept taking notes of the ones they wanted to listen to over and over again. There were five or six on there that now when we get in the car, my 2-year-old will be like, 'Play daddy song, daddy song,' " he says. "And if it's not one of those six, even if it's an older song of mine or a newer one, those are the only six that she cares about. So those made it on the record for sure."

Thomas Rhett
Thomas Rhett. jason shearer

Based on their reactions to his music, asking for more and dancing in their car seats, the "Marry Me" singer learned to trust their feedback.

"You can look at a kid and be like, 'You're too young to understand.' But I feel like kids understand feel-good," he says. "That's the reason Encanto is the biggest movie on the planet. I mean, 'We Don't Talk About Bruno' [is played] in my house 48 million times a day, because it feels good."

He continued, "It feels amazing and I want to dance to it. And so I feel like kids have a really good read on what would make other people smile. And I really just started to trust that and listen to it."

Aside from wanting to make an album that would make his kids smile, Thomas Rhett was also inspired by the 10-year anniversary of the day he released his first single "Something to Do with My Hands" in 2012 — and decided to make it about reflecting on his journey as a musician.

"Looking back and being like, 'Golly,' I can't believe where we have come in this business compared to playing clubs for 12 people," he says. "Not only that, but even in my marriage and looking back, getting married at the age of 22 and now having four daughters under the age of 6 — it's kind of a pinch-me moment in a way."

Where We Started is Thomas Rhett's sixth studio album and follows his 2021 album Country Again: Side A. Following its release, the country music star will kick off his Bring the Bar to You tour on June 17, after playing for Tortuga Music Festival on April 9, Stagecoach Festival on April 29, and iHeartCountry Festival on May 7 — and he says he's got "a bunch of pent-up energy ready to roll."

With several days on the road ahead, the Grammy-nominated star will still manage to make time for his daughters, though they won't be joining him on the tour bus.

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"In the past I would've said yeah, but with four it is nothing short of overwhelming. It's not just bring your kid to work day, it's bring your four kids to work day," he says of taking his daughters on tour.

He continued, "But the older two, I think, are going to come with me quite a bit this year, Ada James and Willa Gray, especially in the summer. You know, they're old enough that they'll do me the justice of sleeping until 9:00 in the morning and stay up with me at night and go watch the show."

This tour will be the first that Ada James and Willa Gray are old enough to occasionally come along on — and Thomas Rhett says it'll make for great "dad-daughter" time.

"[It's] the first time that I'll be like, 'Hey, y'all don't have to go to bed before my show starts. You know, let's just treat this like a weekend and y'all can hang out with Dad till 11:30 and then we'll all go to bed, we'll wake up, we'll go to the zoo. We'll go do whatever y'all want to do.' " he says.

He continued, "With four kids, it's hard to give all your kids different alone time. So to be able to bring the older two out with me and just let us three have some dad-daughter time is going to be really special."

Where We Started is out Friday.

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