Sawyer Brown & Blake Shelton's 'Desperado Troubadours' Album

Inside the Studio: A Tale of Creative Collaboration.

by Nouman Rasool
Sawyer Brown & Blake Shelton's 'Desperado Troubadours' Album
© Jason Kempin/Getty Images

In a revealing conversation from his Nashville home studio, Sawyer Brown's frontman Mark Miller shares high praise for country music star Blake Shelton, who recently took on the role of producer for their latest album, "Desperado Troubadours." Despite Shelton's playful, "Jethro Bodine" persona, Miller, at 65, insists the superstar harbors a sharp intellect and a remarkable memory for music, particularly from the '80s and '90s.

"Blake is a true historian when it comes to our band, not to mention a tremendous fan," Miller told PEOPLE, reflecting on the unique dynamic Shelton brought to the table during the production process. Alongside bandmates Gregg “Hobie” Hubbard, Joe “Curly” Smyth, and Shayne Hill, Sawyer Brown found in Shelton not just a fan but a visionary producer whose instincts were crucial in navigating the creative process, especially evident in their work on the standout track "God Bless This Road."

Shelton's Studio Mastery

Miller recounts a moment of struggle with the song, crediting Shelton with its salvation.

"Blake really came through in those studio sessions, offering that keen sense of musical direction we needed," Miller explains, highlighting the collaborative effort that characterized their studio time. It wasn't just Shelton's technical skills that impressed; his dedication and work ethic left a lasting impression on the band.

Miller shares an anecdote of Shelton's punctuality and commitment, often being the first to arrive and the last to leave the studio. This dedication mirrored the excitement and honor Shelton felt in producing the album for Sawyer Brown, a band he has long admired.

"He was over the moon about working with us, even doubting what he could bring to the table given my own experience in production," Miller recalls of their initial conversation about the project. The production of "Desperado Troubadours" was an intensive process, with Shelton and his wife, Gwen Stefani, joining the band in Nashville for a focused studio session.

This collaboration also led to the creation of "This Side of the Sky," a poignant addition to Sawyer Brown's discography and a spiritual successor to their hit "The Walk." Miller, drawing from personal losses, describes the song as a reflection on continuing connections with loved ones who have passed, underscoring the emotional depth that defines the album.