Jordan Davis’ music video for new single “Detours,” debuting exclusively on PEOPLE, is sure to bring a few sweet tears to your eyes, and you’ll hardly be alone.
Davis reveals that the first time he and his wife, Kristen, watched the autobiographical video, they also teared up, especially when images of their 5-month-old daughter, Eloise Larkin, appeared on the screen.
“It’s almost like a wedding video, to be honest with you,” says Davis, 32, whose “Slow Dancing in a Parking Lot” became his third No. 1 single this week. “It’s something that we can go back and look at and see how much we’ve grown, and hopefully, it’s something that Eloise will be proud of.”
The poignant video — and the song, of course — have literally been a lifetime in the making: The spark of inspiration for “Detours” arrived back in 2016, when Davis reflected on the life journey he’d traveled to meet his then-fiancée.
“It’s crazy all the detours you take,” Davis recalls saying to co-writer Dave Turnbull. That comment was enough to launch the two into writing the first verse and chorus, which describes the Louisianan’s “renegade” high school and college eras and his first “way outside the lines” years in Nashville.
Eventually, Davis enlisted his brother, fellow singer-songwriter Jacob Davis, to help finish the song. “What better person,” Jordan Davis says, “to help pull me along on that than my brother, who’s my best friend and who was with me through the years of the stupidity and all that stuff?”
Courtesy Davis Family Jordan Davis (top) and Jacob Davis as children
Together the brothers were able to tell the story of Davis’ turning point: the day, in 2014, when he met Kristen by chance at a New Orleans hotel. An attorney living in Virginia at the time, she’d traveled to the city to attend a friend’s wedding. Davis had come from Nashville to be a groomsman in another wedding.
The attraction was immediate, Davis says, but he also admits he knew “if I was going to keep doing things that I was doing and I was serious about this [relationship], it probably wasn’t going to last long. I knew for a fact she wasn’t going to just pack up and move to Nashville, and so it was a quick kind of wakeup call.”
Davis’ life changes (and no doubt his wooing skills) eventually set the stage for their engagement, in 2016, and their wedding in March 2017. Daughter Eloise Larkin arrived on Nov. 17, 2019.
Marriage, says Jordan, has been “amazing.”
“It’s definitely not the easiest thing in the world, especially when you’re a touring musician,” he allows. But the divorces of both their parents, he says, have given them an extra level of commitment: “It’s another thing that drives us to really get problems solved quick.”
Courtesy UMG Nashville Jordan Davis’ “Detours”
Completing “Detours” ended up being its own journey; Davis estimates the song took about a year to gestate. Despite all the effort, he still considered it so personal he didn’t think about recording it, let alone releasing it.
“Really in my mind, it was a song that my family would love,” he says, “and maybe we’d play at family functions or around the fire.”
So what changed his mind?
“I played it one time at a show,” Davis says, and the response, both during and after the performance, immediately told him he’d struck a chord.
His brother also began performing it and hearing similar affirmation and “that’s my life, too” comments from listeners. Davis realized it was time to schedule a trip to the recording studio.
The music video closely follows the song’s April 1 release date. Davis says his manager came up with the idea of telling Davis and his wife’s love story with their snapshots. “There’s really no better way to put this song in a visual form than to tell the truth of it,” he says.
As Davis gathered photos, he also knew the concept was going to give his fans a bonus: images of the famously hirsuted singer without his luxurious beard. Even his own team was shocked by the difference.
“I sent over all the photos of me with no beard and some people were like, ‘Who is this guy?'” Davis says, chuckling.
For Davis, the most moving moment of the video arrives in footage, captured by his wife, that shows him assembling a crib. “To be honest, that was really the first time Kristen and I were like, wow, this is real,” he remembers. “Here’s my wife walking around with a belly and a baby, and we’re probably weeks out, and we’re excited, but then it’s still not super-real. But the second we started putting the crib together, I was kind like, ‘Oh my gosh! This is where the baby’s going to sleep. Like, in the house! It was pretty eye-opening.”
Davis uses the same word to describe fatherhood as he does his marriage: “Amazing.”
Like every other artist these days, the COVID-19 epidemic is keeping Davis off the road, and though he’s clearly missing his performance career, he says he’s also grateful for this unexpected time with his daughter. “As terrible as what’s going on is,” Davis says, “I don’t mind this stay-at-home thing. I’m gladly doing it because I’m catching up on two, almost three months of some missed days with Eloise and getting to play with her. I’m loving every second of it.”
Well, maybe not every second: Davis reveals that pulling on Dad’s beard has become one of Eloise’s favorite pastimes. “She likes to bounce, so she reaches up and grabs it,” he says. “And she’s getting strong. At first it was okay — she would just barely tug on it — but now she’s getting a pretty good grip. Baby pullups on Dad’s beard are not fun.”
“Definitely not shaving,” Davis vows. “It’s probably just going to get longer. If I don’t have to cut my hair, I usually don’t, either. So before long I’ll probably be looking like Forrest Gump when he’s running across the country.”