Charles Kelley admits that when he began The Driver album he didn’t want any female collaborators, yet somehow two famous females found their way onto his debut solo effort. The singer says that when it came to Stevie Nicks and Miranda Lambert, he couldn’t help himself.

The Lady Antebellum frontman and producer Paul Worley were intentional about not making a record that sounded like Lady Antebellum, and they also wanted to protect the trio’s signature sound. Nicks was the first to sign on. A little later Lambert signed up for “I Wish You Were Here.”

“They both happened so organically," Kelley says, "and they’re both like my favorite two female singers that I said, ‘I’m sorry. This has to happen.’”

While Nicks has collaborated with Lady A in the past, she got involved with this song through her manager. The Fleetwood Mac singer is a big Tom Petty fan, and loved “Southern Accents,” the cover Kelley chose. As for Lambert, Kelley said he knew something was missing from his version of the Jedd Hughes song after he cut it solo. He remembered the “Automatic” singer was very supportive of his music early on, so he called in a favor.

“I had sang on her second or third record (Revolution), a song we had written called “Love Song.” So I said, ‘Not to put any pressure but I’m calling in my favor from you.’”

Of course Lambert said yes, and a short time later three of the album’s nine songs were collaborations. Look for The Driver in stores on Feb. 5.

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