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Singer Jake Owen focuses on positivity after a tough year

In this June 21, 2016 photo, country music star Jake Owen poses in his boat on the Cumberland River near Nashville, Tenn. Owen's latest album, "American Love," was released Friday. (Mark Humphrey / AP)
In this June 21, 2016 photo, country music star Jake Owen poses in his boat on the Cumberland River near Nashville, Tenn. Owen's latest album, "American Love," was released Friday. (Mark Humphrey / AP)
By Kristin M. Hall Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – On a recent hot summer morning in Nashville, Tennessee, country singer Jake Owen steered his boat down a quiet stretch of the Cumberland River and kicked up a wave curl just perfect for one of his favorite sports: wakeboarding.

After a few minutes, he slowed the boat down to video chat with his 3-year-old daughter, Pearl, who picked out the sparkly hot pink finish on his new boat.

If Owen seems to be living a dream right now, it has a lot to do with his determination to stay positive despite a tough year. Last year, he and his wife announced their divorce and she and their daughter moved out of their home in Nashville.

Instead of writing a “divorce record” full of sad ballads, on his fifth record, “American Love,” Owen returned to light-hearted songs that make fans happy.

“I owe it to them and I owe it to myself to be happy,” he said.

Since his 2006 debut, Owen has made a name for himself with upbeat party songs like “Beachin’ ” or “Barefoot Blue Jean Night.”

Following the divorce, he threw himself into work and hit the road. He started recording with producers Ross Copperman, who has worked with Dierks Bentley, and Grammy winner Shane McAnally, who has worked for Sam Hunt and Kacey Musgraves.

“American Love,” which came out Friday, already has a Top 10 country hit with “American Country Love Song.” Owen shines in steel pedal simplicity on “LAX,” a country song he co-wrote with Nathan Chapman. And he holds his own vocally on “If He Ain’t Gonna Love You,” in which powerhouse singer Chris Stapleton provides backup.

For the first time in his career, he co-produced three of the album’s songs with his band’s guitar player, Lukas Bracewell, including “Good Company.”

“I feel like melodically and musically that (song) really represents the way I feel,” Owen said.

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