“One Of Them Boys is an homage to badass boys/men who may not be the life of the party but who are rock solid in life and in love.” — McKinney James

Donna Block
4 min readSep 15, 2023

What inspired you to write this song?

Bad boys get all the glory, don’t they, romanticized in movies and books. One Of Them Boys is an homage to badass boys/men who may not be the life of the party but who are rock solid in life and in love. The unassuming ones whose actions speak louder than bravado. “One of them boys that don’t play, don’t kiss on the first date, even though he wants to…”

What were you trying to achieve with the production of the song?

As a multi-instrumentalist/vocalist with innumerable producer/engineer/musician credits to his name, Eric was inspired by the simple but vibey flavor Luke Laird and Shane McAnally went for while producing with Kacey Musgraves. The romantic lyrics and airy melody were a natural pairing for that light, bright, open contemporary country sound.

An airy melody that proved a challenge in matching vocal tone to production elements. My sweet spot vocally is chest voice — lower, darker, weightier in tone — which naturally lends itself to a position of power and strength. But in honoring the vibe of trust and surrender when girl meets one of them boys and is brave enough to fall in love, I had to find that place in my head voice where I could capture theproper tone and emotionality of the song, requiring a bit of finesse and restraint to do, and ultimately increasing my appreciation for the more “quiet” soprano types. That magical warm timbre and “small” vocal weight takes as much control as the big belt-it-out deliveries. So clear and pure and underrated in my catalogue, I mean, I barely recognize my own voice on this track.

But we love it. It works. It’s different than anything we’ve ever put out there. One of those songs where in the listen-backs Eric and I were sharing half grins and head nods, like yeah, we need to play more within this range and sound in the future.

“One Of Them Boys”



Amazon Music

What are your thoughts on Kacey Musgraves’ influence on contemporary country music?

I think Kacey Musgraves will be to her generation of artists and fans what Dolly Parton was, and still is, to country music throughout her extraordinary career. Basically I’m saying Kacey will be a legend, on par in her storytelling prowess to the Smoky Mountain Songbird, right down to their similar light and bright soprano vocals. One of the most interesting things to me about both Dolly and Kacey is the number of hit songs they’ve written for other artists. A concept that Eric and I are exploring ourselves, given the shift in life perspectives and priorities over the years, is pitching songs to others.

How do you think “One Of Them Boys” fits into the current country music landscape?

Providing a turn in direction from what we are innately influenced by and accustomed to while writing together, oft opting for an amalgamation of rock, pop, country, folk, and blues — One Of Them Boys is the most straight-up contemporary country song we’ve ever written.

What are your plans for the future of McKinney James?

Alongside the possibilities of pitching we’ve got another MKJ single in production to release in mid-October. I’ll refrain from dropping a specific title, as we’re mulling over a couple at this point. Thereafter we’ll be into the holiday season, which will make for some solid writing sessions, and then we’re back to rolling out more singles come the new year. We got into this song the other day, one I’m loving the alt-country production on, and decided to approach it as a legit duet where Eric sings his share of melody rather than just adding background vocals. So that’s exciting. You’ll love his voice. It’s got this Bryan Adams quality to it. Very cool. Other than that we’re having fun maintaining our Sunday Songwriting Sessions at Wonderland Studios ATX, which has generously provided McKinney James not only a creative outlet but a work-life balance over the past few years of starting each our own respective families. It’s a relief to be at a point in our journey where we’re not chasing down gigs and tours but simply and genuinely enjoying the creative process.

McKinney James