Each and every time Cody Canada would listen to the recording of “Hammer Down” from Cross Canadian Ragweed’s cult classic album Soul Gravy, he would hear something that just drove him a tad crazy.

“That song starts just a split second too late,” he tells Taste of Country of the 18-year itch he has never been able to scratch until now. “Nobody else probably even notices it. It was just something in the editing, but once it got to that point, the record label was ready to put it out," he adds with a laugh. "They said no one would notice it, but to this day, it still bugs me.”

Luckily for him, the chance to have Cody Canada and the Departed transform Soul Gravy is now here, via a new album set for release on July 1.

"I have always loved the songs on that album,” Canada says of the original project that peaked at No. 5 on Billboard's Top Country Albums Chart and featured the singles "Sick and Tired" and "Alabama."

“I wouldn't change one song and not one lyric on the whole record. I just wanted to make it thicker. I hate that boring old term ‘2.0,’ but that's really what it is. We just upgraded the entire album.”

Granted, the world has gone through its share of transformations itself since 2004, the year that Soul Gravy became Cross Canadian Ragweed’s second studio album.

“It really was such a personal record to me, and that’s why I think it made such an impression on the fans,” Canada remembers. “And at the time, it was like [Cross Canadian Ragweed] had a rocket under our feet. We just had so much going on. We never slept. We had 280 shows a year. It was just a circus. We felt that we had to strike while the iron was hot. We just had so much to do and so much to see, and we didn't want anything to hold us down.”

So, they didn’t.

“I look back on it and I think if those ideas came to me today, I would still write them the same,” Canada says of the new and improved album, which still includes the timeless input of artists including Lee Ann Womack, Randy Rogers, and Ray Wylie Hubbard.

But sonically, “Hammer Down” gets the biggest transformation on the new album.

“We brought this old funky little Fender amp and put it inside a box, shut the lid, and we turned on the wah pedal and just kind of cocked the wah pedal at half open, so it had this old transistor radio sort of sound,” recalls Canada. “And instead of an acoustic guitar, I played electric guitar. So, we just kind of beefed it up a little bit and changed it.”

The evolution of Soul Gravy is just as much of an evolution for Canada as it is for the new album, an ever-changing journey that he has been on since the breakup of the legendary band that dominated the Red Dirt scene for more than a decade.

“For the first three years of the Departed, I wouldn't play [Cross Canadian] Ragweed songs because I was heartbroken, you know?” Canada says. “I didn't want the band to break up. I had my feelings hurt, and then I went out to California and played acoustic, and somebody asked for a song, and they said, ‘It's not the band that we miss, it’s the songs that we miss.’ Well, that sucker punched me.”

And those fans are still there.

“It feels good to have sold out shows,” Canada says. “It feels good to have radio play. It feels good to see old songs being played right after new songs being played. It feels good again.”

See the Most Played Country Song from the Year You Were Born

Who had the most played country song during the year you were born? This list is a fascinating time capsule of prevalent trends from every decade in American history. Scroll through to find your birth year and then click to listen. Some of these songs have been lost through the years, many of them for good reason!

Men named Hank dominated early before stars like Freddie Hart, Ronnie Milsap, Willie Nelson Clint Black took over to close the 1980s. More recently it's been Tim Mcgraw, Rodney Atkins, Kane Brown and Morgan Wallen. Did the most-played country song from the year you were born become a favorite of yours later? All info comes from Billboard's country airplay charts.

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