Many country fans were introduced to Charles Esten when he played the role of Deacon Claybourne on the television drama Nashville (2012-2018). And in the years since the show's premiere, he has forged a serious artist career in the real-life Music City. Throughout his career, the actor/singer has released countless songs and performed at the Grand Ole Opry more than 150 times. Now, he's back with his first solo single in more than two years: "One Good Move."
The song was written by Esten along with Sam Backoff, Zarni deVette and Elise Hayes, and it finds the singer looking back on his life and mostly seeing bad decisions and wrong turns. However, as he so eloquently describes in the chorus, he did make one good move: finding the love of his life. The inspiration for the song comes straight from his marriage to his wife of more than 30 years, Patty.
"The song itself is this ode to somebody that's maybe been around long enough to have changed," Esten shared in an exclusive interview with Wide Open Country. "I was telling them about what a fool I was when I was a young man. I made so many mistakes, so many bad decisions, but in the end, I sort of had to realize while I was saying it, 'Well, I made a good decision back then. I found the woman that I would spend the rest of my life with.' Regardless of all those bad moves, I sure made one good move, and my wife Patty was that one good move."
After writing "One Good Move," Esten had to get the seal of approval from the subject of the song -- his wife -- and he says he received the best possible reaction from her.
"She was my first fan from way back then when we first met," Esten says. "I'm still able to tell when there's a song that really gets her. First of all, she's real physical about it. If she ends up moving her hands and dancing, then I know for sure I got her, and believe me, she started dancing to this one and singing along."
"One Good Move" features moving lyrics that capture the story of a reckless young man finding his soulmate and changing for the better. The evocative lyrics are paired with rock-influenced instrumentation, which begins with soft piano and eventually builds to an all-out power ballad complete with surround-sound electric guitars. The song's sound was crafted by producer Marshall Altman at Nashville's Sound Emporium Studios, and Esten approached the song's production the same way he approaches his acting.
"As an actor, scenes have to go somewhere," he says. "I don't want a scene that starts in a fight and ends in a fight. I don't want a scene that starts with quiet conversation and ends in quiet conversation. I want it to go somewhere. I want it to start here and then something happens and it lifts you up and now you're up and you're dancing. I like songs like that, too."
The song is the first offering from Esten's long-awaited debut album, which is coming soon. The project came about after a creative reset during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Esten says he's looking forward to sharing an album full of real-life lessons from the heart.
"The themes throughout it and the vibes are love and loss and joy and sadness and being alone and being with the one you love," he says of the upcoming album. "It's these extremes of the hardest days of your life and then hopefully being able to have the persistence and the strength to wait for those better moments of your life. When they show up, that's when you celebrate and that's when you let the roof come off of it all."
"Hopefully, it's a journey like that," he adds. "Some [songs] that will break your heart and some that will get you on your feet."
This new chapter comes after a long musical journey that began in his teenage years. Esten, who is now starring in the hit Netflix show Outer Banks, says he is "eternally grateful" for the opportunities he's had in the music industry, and he's thankful for his fans' patience as he readies his debut album. And when it comes to "One Good Move" -- the song introducing his new musical era -- he simply hopes fans can find themselves in the tune.
"I hope the song is universal," he says. "When you're in a good part in your life, sometimes you look back and you go, 'That person right there. That made all the difference. There was before that person, and then there was after that person.'"
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