EXCLUSIVE: Charles Esten Says 'Nashville' Will Be Less Soapy and More Music-Focused on CMT

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star Charles Esten is excited for fans to see the upcoming season of the country music drama in its new home on CMT.

“We all knew how much we loved the show, but when you lose it for a little bit, when you get it back, I think everybody looks at each other a little differently now,” Esten, who plays Deacon Claybourne, told ET's Sophie Schillaci backstage at the CMT Artists of the Year 2016 celebration last Thursday, where he presented the honor to Florida Georgia Line. “We know how special it is and how special we’re gonna make it.”

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Esten admitted that when ABC canceled the series last May, he felt there was still more story to tell.

“I never thought we were done telling the stories, that we were done singing the songs,” he said. “And apparently, CMT agreed.”

When Nashville does return to the small screen for a 22-episode fifth season in January 2017, Esten revealed the show will put more emphasis on the characters’ journeys and less on the soap factor.

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“We’re getting to spend a little more time with the songs. Some of the plots won’t be quite as accelerated, or there won’t be quite as many incidents, as [executive producer] Marshall [Herskovitz] has said it,” he shared. “What that means is we’re getting more time within the scenes.”

The 51-year-old singer-actor teased an upcoming scene he shares with Connie Britton, who plays Rayna James, where they got to play as actors within the moment.

“I had a scene with Connie the other day where it was really nice, because it has this nice lyrical pace,” Esten hinted. “It was just Deacon and Rayna together in a room talking about -- I won’t say what -- but it was those moments where we got to be a whole lot and be with each other and then [we went to] the next scene.”

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“In other seasons, we might have gone somewhere else in something a little more heightened,” he continued. “[Here] it was still us and we were continuing the conversation. It was real filmic, like we started out in the very beginning. I love everything we’ve done across all the seasons, but this is going to be a very special one.”

makes its CMT debut on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Watch the video for more on what Connie Britton had to say about Nashville’s resurrection!