Songs on Jon Pardi's new Heartache Medication album date back four years, five years, or more, as is the case with "Don't Blame It on Whiskey," a teary ballad co-written by Eric Church.

Miranda Lambert, Luke Laird and Michael Heeney are listed as additional writers on the song, and Lauren Alaina joins Pardi for the breakup lyrics, making "Don't Blame It on Whiskey" the most star-studded song to come out of Nashville since the "Forever Country" collaboration that advanced the 50th Annual CMA Awards in 2016.

Alaina was just 14 years old when the California-raised cowboy's new song was written in 2008.

"They wrote it for Chief (Church's breakthrough album from 2011) but they wrote it the same week they wrote 'Drink in My Hand,'" Pardi says, starting to laugh. "So maybe 'Drink in My Hand' overshadowed that one."

An executive at Pardi's record label dug the song out of hiding and played it for the "Heartache Medication" singer, who quickly agreed to cut it. They got both superstar songwriters' blessings with a quick text exchange and went to work. Alaina came as a late addition, although the original demo did feature two vocalists.

"It was very simple," Pardi says. "It was just a drum track and a guitar lead and a guitar and vocal from Eric and Miranda. You could just hear the bus humming so it was just a work tape, but it sounded really good."

Lambert sang harmonies on the demo, and before you get your hopes up, don't. Pardi says he doesn't expect that old demo to ever surface, partially because publishers are rarely willing to do such a thing, but also because Church is private about his songwriting and he likely wouldn't go for it.

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"Don't Blame It on Whiskey" isn't the only place you'll find the 2019 CMA Entertainer of the Year's influence on Heartache Medication. Pardi doubles down on traditional country music with this record, a 14-song project that's not unrelenting but certainly committed. His mentor Dierks Bentley has long told him to stick with who he is as an artist, and during a recent awards show, Church emphatically reinforced that message.

“He’s like, ‘You keep doing that different thing. Don’t you change,'" Pardi says, doing a kind of half Eric Church impression. "That kind of input from that kind of artist is what keeps me going, you know. He’s the king of different, you know. And he loves it."

Additional "old" songs on the new album include "Old Hat," which was first cut by songwriter Jeff Hyde for his Norman Rockwell World album in 2018. "Starlight," the album's hopeful, if poignant, closer was penned in 2014. "Just Like Old Times" was written in 2015. All of these songs were cut during three sessions across two-and-a-half years, and Pardi was finished in May of 2019. That's when the waiting game began, but one tends to be a lot less anxious when someone like Chief is paying you the most aggressive form of compliment imaginable.

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