But Ingram can't afford to live in the past or rest on his laurels, no matter how recent they may be. In this day and age, the music business is quite fickle. Fans tend to have very short memories. Many record companies appear to be in perilous shape with record sales way down for several years running.
On the country side, songs seem to stay on the chart longer and longer, making it harder for new acts and songs to gain a foothold. This is particularly important in country music because sales are very much driven by radio play and how well a song does on the charts.
When looking at putting together "This Is It," Ingram says, "I think the goal for me was trying to come up over the course of five years with all the changes in my life and all the changes in my career, I wanted to somehow make a cohesive record. A lot of these songs were being worked on before I started this project...this relationship with the label. A lot of these songs were written before all of this. You're just spanning a longer period of time."
Ingram says he wanted to "have a project that made sense from song 1 to 12."
"I didn't find it hard. It had more to do with selecting the songs because I had a bunch of songs that I was either working on or wanted to record. I was trying to find some type of consistency with the song selection."
Ingram is attempting to ensure that the streak continues with the first single, "Lips of an Angel." If the song sounds familiar to non-country fans, that could be because it was a huge hit for Oklahoma rock band Hinder as a power ballad.
Ingram keeps the basic framework of the song intact, but he also ensures that he puts country instrumentation on "Lips," so it doesn't rock too much or sound like a country artist trying to cross back over into country with a rock song. "I had heard the song, and I was familiar with the band," says Ingram, adding that he does know them personally. "When it hit me, I just said that's a really good song and on top of that, it's a really good country song. Everything works out in the end (of the song). It just made sense to me. I had the opportunity to do it."
"After all these years, I don't hide behind anything," says Ingram, perhaps acknowledging the potential for a hit with the record. "I want to have hit records. I want to make great art. I want to write great songs. I want everything. Some of that is different songs. And I had the opportunity to do, and it's working."
"There are a lot of great rock songs out there. This song sounded like a country song to me. It sounded like something I could do and do well. The complexity of what it's talking about - it's a cheating song, but it's a complex situation almost dealing with some of the emotional issues that I-cheated-on-you, you-found-out song doesn't tell. This is dealing with some more complex emotions I think."
"It is a little bit out of left field, me doing that song," says Ingram.
Big Machine and Ingram hashed out whether to include the song on "This Is It." "We talked about doing it and how and why. I didn't do it just to put on my record. If I'm going to do this, it is to be a single...Doing that song altered our plan a bit, but I think it was worth it. It was the last song recorded for the record. The record was basically done. This was a change of plan because I thought it was great opportunity."
Ingram enlisted the help of Sheryl Crow to sing backing vocals on "Hold On." That was a direct outgrowth of Ingram opening up concerts for Crow last year because Ingram says, "I had recorded the song before we even toured together."
Ingram's stint almost didn't happen because the first set of dates had to be rescheduled when Crow learned she had breast cancer. After treatment, the rootsy flavored rocker quickly hit the road. "At the end of the tour, she left the door open, saying we should work together again. I took that as an opportunity call her. Luckily, she was into the idea of singing on my record."
"Looking at all the songs I had, I know that lyrically it fits...It just made sense. I knew that was the right song for her to sing on."
"She's really cool. She (is) a part of the band. There's a difference between musicians and stars sometimes. Well, she is a star and a big rock star at that. She's also a musician, which by definition (means) she's a good hang."
The two did not record their parts together as Crow was in Los Angeles recording her lines.
Ingram had a hand in writing 6 of the 12 songs on the disc. While there is often a vibe that tends more towards a more rocking country vibe, Ingram tones it down considerably on the ballad "Ava Adele" and the closing "All I Can Do."