Between country music's former ballad-hit maker with a new outlook on life and a young former quarterback with an affinity for songwriting and entertaining the rowdiest of crowds, you wouldn't think there'd be much in common between the two.

But there is – these two share honesty and it may just be the most important quality of both musicians.

Come this Thursday at the Cotton Eyed Joe, Knoxville will have a front row seat to two of country's best kept secrets – who won't be secrets for long.

Opening will be Sam Hunt, a former quarterback at Middle Tennessee State University who co-wrote Kenny Chesney's single "Come Over" in 2012 that received an award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

Headlining the show is David Nail, who's pinned hit songs such as "Red Light" in 2009, "Let it Rain" in 2011 and "Whatever She's Got" in 2013.

Nail released his latest album, "I'm A Fire," in March and labeled the record as more upbeat than his previous albums.

"It's a record that's a bit different from the records I've had in the past; it's a lot more up-beat, more up-tempo, a lot more positivity, lyrically," said Nail in an interview with The Daily Beacon. "It's a really good reflection of where I'm at musically and personally in my life right now."

However, Nail's journey hasn't always been as up-tempo as his latest album.

In 2012, Nail came to the realization that he was clinically depressed and had seen signs of it for quite some time.

"I think it's something that I've suffered with probably most of my adult life," said Nail. "So for years and years and years I just kind of tried to ignore it and not acknowledge it. I hit rock bottom a couple years ago, ironically, almost two years ago to this very week. I decided I wasn't going to try to deal with this on my own anymore."

But as the title track of his album "I'm A Fire" suggests, Nail burnt through his issues, and came out burning stronger than ever.

"(The title track) just made total sense. I knew right away that's what I wanted to call the record," Nail said. "It was just everything I was trying to say in one song. I can remember trying to explain to my wife, and my wife just going, 'Hey babe, you're still a fire; you're burning blue; you're as strong as ever.'"

Though ballad-driven songs were Nail's initial song choices in the past, he said his new optimistic outlook on life is now reflected even in his music.

"I thought in the past that you had to be down in the dumps to do sad songs and that was kind of songs I gravitated towards, and that's why my records kind of sounded the way they did," Nail said. "If there's anything I learned, it's that if you go in and try to have as much fun as possible, the process will take care of itself."

And it seems the process has certainly taken care of itself – Nail's debut single "Whatever She's Got" off his record "I'm a Fire" went platinum and is the first platinum single of his career.

"I felt like it was the perfect introduction to this record," said Nail. "Once I got my arms wrapped around singing it and putting it on a record, I fell in love with it. It's been the biggest song of my career. It's been one that really changed the game for us."

Though the record "I'm a Fire" has seen success, along with his mega hit "Whatever She's Got," Nail still has the same depth and honesty that have resonated through his lyrics and smooth vocals.

"I'm a bad liar," he said. "Honesty as far as music is something I come by pretty easily. That's just how I am, and I don't know any other way to do it."

With this honesty comes his raw love song, "Kiss You Tonight," which is the second single off of "I'm a Fire."

"It was always in the pile. It's the type of song that's not gonna knock anybody over with quirkiness, but it's something really easy on the ears," said Nail. "I just love the sentiment behind it. 'Everything will be alright, if I can kiss you tonight.' I just think it's a really nice sentiment."

With a new album, new single and a new outlook on life, it's his initial motivation that goes hand-in-hand with his burning passion to keep pursuing music and add happiness to his life.

"My first record is called 'I'm About to Come Alive,' and there have been several moments where we could have given up," Nail said, "but we're still burning, we're still coming alive."