"I didn't want to do an album if it wasn't in me," said Paisley, whose "5th Gear" follows 2006's double-platinum "Time Well Wasted," which he notes "had plenty of singles left if we needed them."
But he also had a new batch of songs he felt were crying to be recorded.
"It really came down to, 'Do I have a unique project to offer at this point in time?'" Paisley said. "And I did. The pressure was just to make sure that we go places that I've never been."
A case in point is "Ticks," the album's first single, in which Paisley expresses his affection for a girlfriend by offering to check her for infestation.