Country singer James Otto says many changes in his personal and professional life led to the range of emotions on his new album, "Sunset Man." VOA's Mary Morningstar explains.

It's taken James Otto six years to finally earn his big break in Country music. He started the journey in 2002, when Mercury Records signed him for his debut album, Days Of Our Lives.  Despite opening for Shania Twain's 2003 "Up" tour and a few minor chart hits, James lost his recording deal due to many personnel changes at the label.

But, he had the support of his closest friends in Nashville. While contemplating his next move, James performed with Nashville's Muzik Mafia, a coalition of singer-songwriters that also includes Big and Rich, and Gretchen Wilson.

James says he likes today's guitar-driven Country rock, but he's equally comfortable writing and singing ballads.

As a songwriter, James says he's most proud of the track "Where Angels Hang Around." It's a song he wrote with Monty Criswell to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

When comparing his new album, Sunset Man, to his first release, James says, "As we started making the record, I started changing as a guy. There were a lot of life changes that go along with that - the mental ups and downs of getting a record deal, losing a record deal, getting married, and going through the whole thing. I've changed completely as a person, and the music changed as I went. I'm much more relaxed than I ever was, and the music followed me in that direction."

Two of the biggest names in Country music worked with James on the project. John Rich of Big and Rich and Otto's brother-in-law, Jay DeMarcus, a member of Rascal Flatts, co-wrote some of the tracks with James. They also helped him produce the album.

James will spend the remainder of the year performing concerts with Gary Allan, Brooks and Dunn, LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood. He'll also make several appearances on Lynyrd Skynyrd and Hank Williams, Jr.'s "Rowdy Frynds (Friends) Tour" and play a stadium show in Nashville during the CMA Festival.

Sunset Man entered the Country chart at Number 2.  For the week ending May 17, its debut single became his first Number One hit.