Even though Danielle Bradbery “loves” singing with Thomas Rhett and believes he “can sing anything,” Thomas Rhett is a little more self-deprecating. He jokes that when he teamed up with Bradbery to record her latest single “Goodbye Summer,” which is an adapted duet of “Hello Summer” from her 2017 album, she was such a powerhouse he struggled to match her voice.
“When I got in the studio my sole job on this song was trying to not sound terrible up next to how awesome Danielle’s voice is,” Thomas Rhett, 28, tells PEOPLE.
“I truly believe that Danielle is literally one of the best singers that I have ever heard in my entire existence. So when I got on that song, there was a part of me that was going, ‘Do I sing this verse down in my register or do I try to copy Danielle’s melody on the second verse?’”
Although they opted for a harmonizing melody, Thomas Rhett says it was “one of the hardest times for me in the studio — trying to keep up with how amazing of a vocalist she is.”
The longtime friends are no stranger to musical collaborations, and are often quick to compliment each other on the different dynamics they each bring to the table. Bradbery featured on Thomas Rhett’s 2015 album Tangled Up, when they sang a duet called “Playing with Fire,” and that’s when they learned the true chemistry their voices had.
“It sounds awesome,” Bradbery, 22, tells PEOPLE of her new single. “When we did ‘Playing with Fire’ a lot of people were like, ‘Oh, y’all’s voices sound awesome together’ and I agree. I love singing with him.”
“Goodbye Summer” marks the first-ever collaboration The Voice winner has had on her own single, and she’s “pumped” for the duet to be with Thomas Rhett.
“I’ve known Danielle for so long [and I’ve gotten to] watch her grow into this amazing artist that she is today,” Thomas Rhett says. “Her voice on the song absolutely kills me and I’m just honored to be a very small part of this song.”
However, Thomas Rhett’s association with the song is more organic than just collaborating in the recording studio. The “Die a Happy Man” singer actually co-wrote the track with his father, Rhett Akins in April 2017. Initially, the song was titled “Hello Summer” and was meant to have a male lead.
“It’s a pulling into a beach town or a lake town or the middle of nowhere town and seeing that person,” Thomas Rhett tells PEOPLE. “You’re like, ‘Oh my gosh we’re both single and we’re immediately drawn to each other even though I’m from Tennessee and she’s from Michigan. We’re just going to spend the next like three months hanging out with each other.’”
“He pulled into that parking lot with them out of state tags / I fell in love before he unpacked his bags,” Bradbery sings in the song’s opening verse.
“Most of the time when you part ways from a summer fling you never know what’s going to happen after that,” Thomas Rhett says. “That’s the emotion of the song to me and that’s where the idea stemmed from.”
“Letting go would be the hardest part / Hello summer, goodbye to my heart,” the pair sings repeatedly in the chorus before changing the closing verse to “Goodbye summer, you tore me apart / Blue eyes and blue skies fade into the dark / Letting go is the hardest part / Goodbye summer, hello to my broken heart.”
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When Bradbery first heard the track, she fell in love with it, but “lived with the song for a while” before knowing she would cut it for her album.
“It was cool because without knowing what was going to happen to it, I still wanted to listen to it in my car or jam to it when I’m cleaning my house,” Bradbery says. “It was such a fun song. It was so catchy and the story was really cool.”
When the song “Hello Summer” first appeared on Bradbery’s album I Don't Believe We've Met in 2017, it was as simple as “changing he to she.” But the two felt the song was still missing an element, so they decided to adjust the lyric to “Goodbye Summer” when they came full circle and added Thomas Rhett’s voice to the track.
“At first it was a guy’s song, then it was a girl’s song, and now it’s both,” Thomas Rhett says. “The song finally found its place and found a home.”
He jokes, “I hope for my sake that I did the song justice! I hope when people hear it they love our voices blended together.”
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