With his first single closing in on the country top 40 and a prime opening slot on his label boss' latest tour, JT Hodges could hardly ask for a better start to his recording career.

Hodges won't be satisfied with an auspicious beginning, however. He's in this for the long haul, and to prove it, he's getting ready to release a debut album that he promises will be "very, very diverse."

Checking in from the road, where he's performing as part of Toby Keith's Locked and Loaded  lineup until October, Hodges told Taste of Country that the tour has been "everything I hoped it would be."

"It’s going to be sad when it’s all over," he admitted, "but this was a great opportunity for me. It’s a great start out of the gate. I’m looking forward to kind of getting out there on my own a little bit here at the end of the year and the start of next year, hitting one fan at a time."

And when he returns to the stage next year, he'll be promoting an album that he thinks will surprise his fans. "Don’t assume just because you heard this first single that the others will be like that," he warned. "There’s a lot of what I like to do within the frame of what I do, if that makes any sense. I’m just excited for people to hear it because there’s a lot of different angles that I’m tackling … different vibes, different music, as well as what the songs are about. I’m just looking forward to people hearing it. They are going to get a diverse record."

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