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ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 14: Singer/Songwriter Eric Church Celebrates the release of his new album "The Outsiders" with The Outsiders Live Tour at the Buckhead Theatre on February 14, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Eric Church is no stranger to the ACM’s Album of the Year category, as he took home the honor for his album Chief in 2012.

This year he’s nominated for ACM Album of the Year for his Desperate Man project.

Released last October, Church didn’t think the album was going to happen at all. “What I thought this album was going to be—well, it wasn’t that at all,” he says. “But once we found the template and got on the right path, we were really knocking them down. It took a while, but then we got most of the album done in a few days.”

When he set out to start the album he had been through a serious health scare and had performed at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas, where dozens of country music fans lost their lives.

“I still felt shook up pretty good,” he says. “I wasn’t ready yet, wasn’t settled from all that happened—I was still reeling from Vegas, I felt displaced and not really connected to anything. I had to get back to enjoying what we were making and finding refuge in the music as a bit of an anchor.”

The album came about after three special songs came to the surface, “An interesting thing about this album is that there are some crumbs that led us to this album. There were three songs that really led to the rest of the album and that’s ‘The Snake,’ which is up front on the album, that’s ‘Hippie Radio’ and that’s ‘Higher Wire,’ and there is a creative thing that happened.”

He continued, “I think that, if I am talking to [the fans], and they are listening to the album as a whole, there’s something pretty magical about those three tracks because they really made the record happen. And that’s not something that everybody would know unless I tell you. For me, that was really the key that unlocked Desperate Man.”

Church’s Desperate Man is nominated at The Academy of Country Music Awards, which will be handed out in Las Vegas on April 7th live on CBS.

Other Albums up for Award are Dierks Bentley’s The Mountain, Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour, Chris Stapleton’s From A Room Vol. 2 and Dan + Shay’s self-titled album.

-Nancy Brooks