As a fan of boxing’s glory days, Turner looked toward some of his heroes from the ring for inspiration. “I’m definitely a fan of fighters like Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and Evander Holyfield,” he said. “To me, they were the greats. People considered them gods in some ways. They were so iconic in the ring, and everybody made such a big deal about each fight they had. With this record, I wanted to express the idea that life is tough. You get a lot of punches thrown at you and you have to take those punches and keep moving forward. So I just kind of channeled all of that.”
The results draw from despair on “Pallbearer” (written by Turner), which features Marty Stuart on mandolin and Iris DeMent on harmony vocal in a lonesome account of a longtime family friend’s death. They also bubble over with joy on “Find Me a Baby” (Turner and the album’s producer, Frank Rogers), on which the voices of his wife and kids appear, along with their new baby’s gurgling laugh.