Cassadee Pope/MacKenzie Porter/ Olivia Lane

First Published September 2021

POPE LEADS TRIO TO WATCH

Grammy-nominated artist Cassadee Pope has confirmed the October 15th, 2021 release of her upcoming album, THRIVE, featuring latest single, Tomorrow Night, which is out now to stream and download.

The album, co-produced by Nick Wheeler (All-American Rejects) and Karen Fairchild (Little Big Town), also features previous singles What The Stars See and Say It First, both released earlier this year.

New song, Tomorrow Night, written by Pope, Dein Guisande and Aaron Chafin, is an upbeat track leaning further into Cassadee’s pop-punk sensibilities and describes a longing feeling that everyone can relate to – whether it is anxiously awaiting a well-earned holiday or anticipating the return of a loved one, we all understand wanting to push the clock forward. 

“I had a chorus idea before my session with Devin Guisande and Aaron Chafin that really excited me. As a big Weezer fan, I really wanted to lean into that influence for this track,” says Pope. “It’s a love song at its core, wrapped in walls of guitars and high energy percussion. I hope people relate to this lyric of just wanting to fast forward to the moment you get to be with the person you’re in love with.” 

Following a premiere last week with PEOPLE.com, Cassadee went on to share the music video for Tomorrow Night via YouTube. Directed by Kamren Kennedy, the quirky video calls back to the style and feel of the early 2000s as it takes us through all the fidgety ways in which we may try to busy ourselves while aching for the time to pass. The conclusion of the music video features someone near and dear to Cassadee’s heart and who she can’t wait to see every day – her beloved dog, Cuppy!

“I knew I wanted the music video for ‘Tomorrow Night’ to be fun, quirky and early 2000s nostalgic,” says Cassadee. “I wrote the treatment and was so happy that Kamren Kennedy was up for bringing it to life. I’ve never had so much fun shooting a video before. Getting to spend the day shooting with my dog, Cuppy, was such a blast. I hope this video makes people smile and feel like they’ve been transported to a time that was so influential for me.”

Cassadee is a Grammy-nominated, platinum-certified singer-songwriter, and Thrive will be her ninth album when it drops next month. The album’s first single, the aforementioned What The Stars See – featuring Karen Fairchild and Lindsay Ell – is a raucous anthem about longing to see what a past partner is doing since going separate ways. Pope performed the track on The Kelly Clarkson Show where she also revealed  what the title of her latest collection would be. The project is special to Pope – blending her influences from her pop-punk days fronting the band Hey Monday, and the country music storytelling and songwriting that she now calls home.

Last year, Cassadee released her first acoustic solo album co-produced by Pope alongside Todd Lombardo. The project followed her album, Stages, featuring hit singles Take You HomeOne More Red Light, and If My Heart Had a Heart.

From fronting rock band Hey Monday, to winning Season Three of The Voice and releasing her #1 debut album Frame by Frame, Cassadee has effortlessly re-arranged the lines of country and pop. She has already experienced tremendous success throughout her career, with Platinum-selling single, Wasting All These Tears being awarded with Breakthrough Video of the Year at the 2014 CMT Music Awards, and her #1 hit Think of You with Chris Young receiving a 2017 Grammy nomination for Best Country Duo/Group.

Cassadee has toured extensively, joining legendary artists Tim McGraw and Dierks Bentley, playing London’s iconic O2 Arena during C2C: Country to Country Festival, and earning the distinction of the only country artist to perform at 2018’s Warped Tour. Cassadee performed If My Heart Had a Heart on the TODAY show and toured with Maren Morris on her Girl: The World Tour. Cassadee continued to tour throughout the spring of 2019 as the headliner of the 2019 CMT Next Women of Country Tour, which brought the franchise outside of the U.S. for the first time ever.

Put October 15th in your diaries now, because as far as contemporary country music goes, you’ll make few better moves this year. 

Rising singer-songwriter OLIVIA LANE is another name to watch out for, and she’s just released her new full-length album HEART CHANGE, whichisalsonowavailable to stream and download also. The album features eleven songs, all of which are written or co-written by Lane, along with well-acclaimed songwriters including Matt Nolen (Eric Paslay, Trace Atkins, Lindi Ortega) and Skip Black (Craig Morgan, Jana Kramer, LOCASH), among others.

“When thinking of what to name this body of work, I had to reflect on what I had experienced in my life over the last few years,” says Lane. “I’m learning heart changes lead to growth, maturity, heartbreak, heart mending and new ways to look at life. They are necessary in becoming our truest selves.”

Olivia’s new collection features the brand new song BREAK, as well as recently released Lois Lane, Woman At The Well, and I Let The Devil In which has received airplay across the UK and Europe following its exclusive first play on BBC Radio 2 in February. Streams for the album tracks released to date have already totalled over 3.9 million, with 2.4million+ views for the official music videos, and features on high profile playlists including Wild Country and PopCo (Spotify), New In Country (Apple Music) and Country Waves (TIDAL).

Most people would probably know Olivia Lane from her appearance on NBC’s Songland, as host of her Living Instead podcast, by the songs that have earned her recognition as one of country music’s new top female artists, or from the highly lauded entrepreneurial spirit that led to the launch of her own publishing venture, Liv Write Play Music. 

But, this new album, Heart Change, heralds the arrival of an Olivia Lane her fans have yet to experience. A Houston native, Lane spent time in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Southern California before settling in Nashville in 2013. Her sweet, soulful voice and insightful songwriting helped Lane earn an enthusiastic following and she continues to grow her audience on her socials and her consistent headlining UK tours. She’s a savvy businesswoman who enjoys being a publisher and mentor. 

At her essence, Lane is a singer/songwriter, and entertainer, and she’s excited for her audience to experience the songs on her new album.

Add Heart Change to your music library and you’ll find that it’s a long-player you keep coming back to. 

And finally for now, we come to Big Loud Records’ Country riser MACKENZIE PORTER who has released track-one in a series of new songs to come with UNLONELY ME. 

Penned by Porter herself, along with Nick Bailey and Craig Wiseman, the song is a light and sunny ode to wanting to rekindle a former flame, and is an infectious country track.   “I wrote ‘Unlonely Me’ at the very start of quarantine in 2020,” explains Porter. “I was super resistant to write over Zoom because I’m very much an ‘energy in the writing room’ person, but when I jumped online with Craig Wiseman and Nick Bailey, I started playing those chords and this song just kind of fell out. We wrote it about the beginning of a relationship, but for me personally, it was about feeling pretty lonely at that time. I can’t wait for y’all to hear it.”


This song comes on the heels of the launch of the Buy Dirt Tour withJordan Davisat The Fillmore in Minneapolis, MN. Porter is tapped as support for the tour this fall. From Minneapolis, she will start the three-month club run across the country, stopping at legendary rooms such as Webster Hall in New York City and Joe’s Live in Rosemont, IL. Porter also recently released a new Amazon Original cover of Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn. Featured on the playlist cover, Amazon Music listeners could find Porter’s cover of Torn on the highly coveted Breakthrough Country playlist. They could also find her on Canada Now, Amazon Music’s playlist celebrating the best new Canadian music. 

The 2021 JUNO Award nominee for Country Album of the Year is also featured on hitmaker Dustin Lynch’s current single Thinking ‘Bout You that is quickly climbing up the U.S. Country radio charts. About to knock on the doors of the 20s, this song has shown itself to be a massive hit. Selected by Lynch during a blind audition, Porter delivers her signature “girl-next-door vocals” that, according to Billboard, “cut like a blade.” 

Recently wrapping her 2021 extension of The Loft Sessions, directed by Caleb Donato and shot at the iconic Bluebird Caféin Nashville, the series originally launched in 2019 with These Days and continued in January of 2020 with a cover of Alanis Morissette’s Hand In My Pocket. With Nashville taking notice of what American Songwriter magazine has called her “authentic heart”, and Billboard paying attention to “her mesmerizing vocals and hook-driven songs”, Porter was also inducted into CMT’s Next Women of Country Class of 2021, joining an elite sisterhood of trailblazers and tastemakers.


Signed to Big Loud Records, Porter is currently enjoying the spotlight thanks to her headline-making Thinking ‘Bout You collaboration with Dustin Lynch at Country radio, plus her own Drinkin’ Songs: The Collection, an arsenal of two years’ worth of new music produced by Joey Moi.

Since moving to Nashville in 2014 from her native Canada, MacKenzie has developed a radiant country style which threads the needle between traditional heart and modern energy, often collaborating with songwriting mainstays like Nicolle Galyon, Craig Wiseman, Natalie Hemby, and Tommy English. Her songs have sparked a list of headline-worthy accolades, including multiple Canadian Country Music Award nominations – four times for Female Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and Fans’ Choice – as well as 2021 and 2015 JUNO Award nominations, both for Country Album of the Year


In really making her mark, Porter became the first female artist to have three back-to-back #1 singles at Canadian Country radio in twenty-two years with About YouThese Days and Seeing Other People in early 2020, following Shania Twain who last achieved that feat back in 1998. Porter also earned her first crossover Top 10 at Canadian Pop radio – a first since 2003 for a Canadian Country artist – with These Days (Remix), and joined CMT’s elite sisterhood of tastemakers and trailblazers as one of their Next Women of Country class of 2021.

The Pandora 2021 Country Artist to Watch has toured extensively on her own, also sharing stages with Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, Chris Lane, Blake Shelton and Dallas Smith, and co-starred in the Netflix series, Travelers. Her newest release Unlonely Me is part of a series of new music to come.


THRIVE, the brand NEW album from CASSADEE POPE, will be available on all platforms from October 15th. HEART CHANGE, the NEW and full-length collection from OLIVIA LANE is OUT NOW, available on all platforms, as is the latest single from MACKENZIE PORTER, titled UNLONELY ME. 

ENDS

Marc Roberts

First Published August 2021

“PEOPLE NEED MUSIC”

Part 2

It’s far from a given that somebody who possesses an extraordinary talent will also possess a personality to match. One gentleman who effortlessly excels in both regards, however, is one of Ireland’s foremost talents when it comes to the gentle entwining of words and music, MARC ROBERTS. 


Truth be told, in fact, if some extraordinary talents were relying only – or even too much – on their personalities, they’d be in big, big trouble. And just to be clear, when I talk about personality in this context, I mean something as simple as someone’s ability or inclination to be friendly, to be respectful of others, to be able to show some sympathy, some empathy, and some compassion as a matter of course, rather than as an exception, or only when they have their ‘show’ face on. There are some in the world of entertainment who consider themselves to be ‘stars’ first, humans second. In their own minds, they walk among us, rather than with us. Not so with Marc. 


The Mayo native, who has made his home in the land of the tribes where he presents The Feel Good Factor on Galway Bay FM, is as down to earth and normal a chap as it could ever be your pleasure to meet. Marc is a genuinely extraordinary artist, as his latest single, CONSIDER IT DONE, proves yet again. And if you haven’t yet heard his previous release, the truly beautiful Don’t Let The Sun Get In Your Eyes, let that be exhibit B in this case. 


But as well as being s songwriter of considerable skill and renown himself, Marc was also the man responsible for introducing Daniel O’ Donnell to the craft in a serious way. But how, I wondered, did it all happen? This week, we get Part 2 of our recent chat with Marc underway by the man himself telling us all about it…


“Well Daniel has been a friend of mine forever, for as long as I can remember. And he’s always been a great encourager and a great friend in the business, without a doubt. And we have a similar sense of humour too, to be honest. Then in 2004, I toured Australia with him, as his guest artist. He’s always said he loves my songs, so I used to always send them to him. But then he’d come back and say, ‘It’s a gorgeous song…but it’s just not me.’ And I was like, ‘Well what IS you then?’ [Laughs]. I didn’t get that. You see, with me, cathartically, I have to write. And I love it. I won’t push myself, but when something happens I go there. So it could be rock, pop, rap, classical, anything, I have bits of everything. I just love music, like I love people. That’s just me. And it has to come out some way. So I’d send him all of these, and in hindsight, I could see afterwards why they weren’t suiting him or whatever. So it was Don, my manager [Collins], while we were on tour who said, ‘For God’s sake, I’m sick listening to the two of ye talkin’ about writing. Why don’t ye get together and try writing something?’ The thing with Daniel is that he’s very lyrical in the way he speaks. And he comes out with some very profound statements, and some very positive things. He has his own definite thoughts on things. Almost to a charismatic point where he can comfort people by some of the things he says without even realising how important it was that he said it.”

“So when we came back from Australia”, continued Marc, “I went to his house in Donegal, and we wrote ‘I Will Think Of You.’ And then the following day – I stayed over that night – and the following day we wrote another one. That was two. And he was absolutely thrilled. He just couldn’t believe it. He was ringing two of his friends and goin’, ‘I’ve actually written my first song.’ And he did his work [on the song] the same as I did mine. We trashed out ideas back and forth, just kind of teaching him in a way that there are certain things you can say, but by not saying it. And there are certain words you shouldn’t use that just don’t work in a song, that kind of thing. And it went from there. We had two on that album, ‘Live,Laugh, Love’, then we had three on the next album, including the title-track, ‘Yesterday’s Memories.’ And then the next one was ‘Until The Next Time’, and I wrote two-thirds of that album, pretty much. The first single that came off it was called ‘Crush On You’, which went Top 20 in the UK pop charts.” 

So would Marc say that songwriting is something that can be taught to someone who might have never even attempted it previously? Or would it have to be someone like Daniel who – as Marc had pointed out – is almost lyrical without even knowing it, so maybe just needed to be made aware of how close to being a songwriter he actually was? 


“I’d say it’s a mixture of both, to be honest with you. I don’t think it’s something you can teach people. It’s something innate that we [songwriters] have. And there’s a general thought that you don’t question it too much in case it disappears [laughs]. We all do different things in life. I can’t do things that other people can do. I would be, probably, a deep thinker, I would think a lot and would be working things out that way. And I know Daniel would be the same, from the point of view of having definite thoughts and ways of saying things. His fans are just so important to him, no more than my own are to me as well. I mean, they are the reason that we do what we do. We’ve been given an amazing responsibility and opportunity to do what we do for a living, and meet people in the process, and make people happy. It’s just an amazing thing. So, for him, I would have definite ideas and things of what he wanted to say, and he did. All we did was get together and we tried it, and it worked. My manager and I have written a song together, just the one. And again, it was down to something that kept recurring thought-wise, words-wise, idea-wise. We finished it together coming back one night from a gig. So I don’t think it’s something you can teach people. You can show people the idea of what songwriting entails, but I think a lot of the magic is something that you have to be born with. It’s just something that happens. And as I said, you don’t question it too much [laughs].” 

Songwriting is a funny thing on the Irish country scene, in that it can often be ignored. An artist like Derek Ryan, for example, will – quite rightly – be heralded as a figure to admire precisely because he’s such an excellent songwriter. But he’s not the only great songwriter in Irish country music. Yet, so often you’ll see Irish country artists covering American country songs that, of course, first entered the world as…original songs. So why not find great original songs from Irish writers too? As a songwriter, how does Marc see that side of things? 


“The only thing that really bothers me is that there’s an element of karaoke coming into the business that I don’t like. I’ve written with Derek, we’ve written three or four songs together, and we’ve had quite a lot of success with those. And everytime we meet we say we must get together again! I’ve written with Brian Kennedy, I’ve written with Jimmy MacCarthy, there’s quite a lot of people I’ve written with and loved the whole process. Gary Barlow calls it sharing the birth experience! [Laughs]. It’s great to get like-minds in a room and to just work at something, and see it evolve. So that’s the only problem I have with the business. There’s even karaoke tracks being released with vocals on them, and that’s not what the business is about. Derek Ryan and I always say that the amazing thing about writing a song and releasing it is that you KNOW that no-one else is going to have that song as their next single. Whereas if you’re recording covers all the time, there’s always a danger that somebody else is going to have the same song recorded with three-and-a-half-grand spent on it, and so did you! Then it’s a battle for the playlists [laughs]. But you see, for us, for people like yourself and myself that write and are in the business, it’s a total commitment. You’re there for every element of it. And there’s nothing nicer for me than to hear somebody who wrote something perform it. If you ever hear Jimmy MacCarthy perform his own songs, it’s just the most magical thing. And you realise why he used a particular word in a particular place…because it’s him. I did a lot of stuff with Jimmy down through the years and he’s just amazing, the way he thinks and the images he creates. People that do write their own songs, I have so much respect for them because you have bought in totally into the whole business. Everything about who you are and what you do is music. Even when you’re off, you’re writing. You’re thinking about songs. You’re coming up with something. Then you’re seeing if it’s good enough, will people identify with it? It’s a full-package kinda thing, which is what the Americans have done for years. But people have always covered songs, and if it’s a great song, or something that meant a lot to me, I would certainly do it. But I love the original element of things because you’re getting a part of the person really.” 

Of course it isn’t just Daniel from the O’ Donnell household that Marc has co-written with, having collaborated with Majella on When I Found You, a very special song for the couple…


“That was amazing, yeah. And the way we did it. It was Don again, my manager, who came up with the idea. Majella had said to me one time she was down in Galway – her sister lives here – that she wanted something special for the wedding, and she’d love to write a song. She has a great voice, you know. And she just wanted to do something different. So she wanted to write one, but she had no idea if she could. And to be honest, I had no idea whether she could or not either! But Don came up with the suggestion that Majella write Daniel a letter telling him exactly how she felt about him from the minute she met him, and how her life has changed. And God forbid, but if he was to head off to war tomorrow and she was never to see him again…what would she say? What are the things you would say to someone you loved who you might never see again. And you’d only have this one opportunity to do it. We were performing our tribute to the music of John Denver in the National Concert Hall in Dublin at the time, and Majella came to the show with one of her friends. And before the show she handed me a letter, and she said, ‘Do not show this to anybody or I’ll kill ya!’ [Laughs]. I said no problem. So I came back to Galway, and I live beside the beach. So I literally went to the beach with the guitar, opened the letter, and twenty minutes later I had a song called ‘When I Found You.’ And that title was one of her lines. The very first line in the letter was, ‘How can I put into words the way you make me feel’, and that’s the first line of the song. So I literally crafted the song out of what she had given me. ‘You’re everything I’ve lived for/ Somehow it feels so right/ You’re the sunlight in the morning/ You’re the stars above at night/ I want this day to last forever/ I hope it always will/ I thank God above for making dreams come true/ Cos he gave me all I wished when I found you.'”

Marc went on, “While I know Majella, and she’s a dear friend of mine – more so now than at the time, when I would only have known her for about a year and a half, and on occasions where I would have met herself and Daniel at shows or maybe out in Tenerife – but we wouldn’t have been as close as we are now. And you need to be close to someone [to write with them], almost to be able to give out to them, to say, ‘You can’t say that!’ [Laughs]. When you’re writing with somebody you have to be so honest. You need to know you can trust that person, that you can say whatever it is, and sound as stupid as you want. Because then the other person can come back and say, that won’t work…but this will! That kind of trust has to be there. Anyway, when she heard the song, she was just blown away. Because she could hear the various things she’d said, ya know. So on the day of the wedding, after the first dance, I went up on stage with the guitar and Majella came up and sang it. And she made a gorgeous job of it. I’ll tell ya, he was one shocked Daniel! First time I’ve ever seen him speechless [laughs].” 

While every song will, of course, have its own special place in his heart and its own memories attached to it, I wondered which songs in Marc’s own catalogue held a particularly special place in his affections? 


“Probably the one I mentioned before, ‘Four Empty Walls.’ Because every Sunday afternoon, myself and my mum and dad, and my sister, always went to my grandparent’s house for a visit. That was my mum’s mum and dad. It was something we always did, and always loved to do. It was just unquestionable that every Sunday that’s where we were going to be. And some of my other relations would arrive and it was just gorgeous, it really was. Then, over a short period of time, both my grandparents passed away. And it became too difficult for any of us to go back and see the house. But one day, without telling anybody, I hopped in my car and I drove to the house. The wall around the front of the house that was too high when I was a kid, I could step over. At the back of the house there was a tree. And I remember one day, myself and my sister, Marie, we were playing at the tree and we tied a little piece of the tree down to the ground, so it was like in an arch. It was just a small piece of a twig. And all these years later, I came back and that tree had totally grown into that shape. And it really got me. And the house, all that was left of it was four empty walls. I sat in the car, I was quite upset, and I wrote ‘Four Empty Walls’ from beginning to end. Then I put it away because I couldn’t tell anybody that I’d been to the house, because I didn’t want to upset them. As in emotionally. Not that they would have minded me going there. But eventually I did [tell them]. It’s just one of those songs that affect all of us. And then, Shay Healy, God rest his soul, heard me sing it, asked for a copy of it, and sent it to Ralph Murphy, who sadly is no longer with us as well. Ralph was one of the people behind me being one of the six Irish writers who would go to Nashville, because of that song. To this day, everytime I sing it I’m back there. And I see my grandparents, so it’s special. It means a hell of a lot. And I’m so happy to say that it means a lot to a lot of people. Because everybody has that one little house, that one place in their life that they can’t go back to.” 

Because it is such an emotional song, is it also a hard one for Marc to sing? 


“It can be. It’s even harder if my mum and dad are in the audience. So I literally just have to blank them out [laughs]. Because the last thing you’d want to do is to upset your parents, needless to say. But everybody is back in that moment when I sing it…and me too. It’s just one of those things, every little bit of it brings me back…”

One thing we couldn’t pass over before our chat came to an end, was the state that the music and ‘live’ events industries remained in. On the day we spoke, indoor dining had just returned, and yet, for music to return indoors, the road ahead was – and is – still as unclear as it had been six, eight, and more months ago. What did Marc think lies ahead? Or what way back is one he thinks would work? 


“I honestly don’t know. It’s a little bit frightening. We were the first to go, we’ll be the last to come back. And we’re always the first port of call for anybody who needs any celebrations or charity, or whatever. And I have no problem with that. That’s one thing I spent a lot of time doing in lockdown, doing a lot of stuff for charity, which I’m very proud of. We did a concert on Valentine’s night for the National Breast Cancer Research Institute, I put it together and compéred it, and sang on it. We got all our buddies, Daniel, and Nathan, and everybody else to do it. And we raised €69,000, which was amazing. Again, for a very worthy cause, because everybody is affected by something like that. But yeah, I honestly don’t know what the answer to those questions are. What scares me a little bit is that we’re not talked about that much, as an industry. I know for a fact people need music, in every sense. Emotionally, physically, socially, whatever it may be. Everybody needs it, and I think this has highlighted it. On the other hand, this is unprecedented, this has never happened before. So I mean, my heart goes out to the government at the same time, because there’s no blueprint. Everybody’s waiting to see what’s going to happen. It’s difficult for everybody. I have no idea how music is going to come back, be it in phases or whatever. But I really do believe that it has to come back. People cannot live without music. We can’t live without performing it, and people can’t live without that social element, and music’s release, and that ability to provoke thought. Everybody needs it. I’d be quietly positive, and I always would be, that we’ll get there.” 

Finally, we finished up with what is possibly my favourite question to ask anybody that I’m lucky enough to have a chat like this with. I asked Marc if he could remember one of the best lessons he’s ever learned, be it about life in general or specifically music related. And also, is there any one piece of advice he’s ever been given – again, about life in its broadest sense or just about music – that has stuck with him and served him well to this very day? 


“Great question. I went to secondary school in Gortnor Abbey in Crossmolina, which was the Jesus and Mary nuns. And they always said one thing: you have two ears and one mouth for a reason! And I think that’s the best advice in the world. Listen. Speak your mind, but listen when you’ve spoken, like I said in the song. It’s amazing even at gigs when you meet people, and how people can feel comfortable enough to talk to ya. Ok, it might end up in a song [laughs], but at the same time, I think it’s so important to listen. I really do. To anybody. I find in conversations, if there’s a lot of talk goin’ on, I get quieter [laughs]. I just listen. And that’s not being judgemental, it’s not being anything. I just feel that when the time is right, or if I have something to say, I ‘ll say it. But in the meantime, I’ll just keep quiet. That’s one of the most important things, and I’ve always remembered it…you have two ears and one mouth for a reason! Listen twice as much as you speak. And the other one then, well I remember being asked once by Brenda Balfe on RTE Radio 1, aroundabout the time of Eurovision, my favourite proverb. And it would be, ‘Never leave to do tomorrow what you can do today.’ Because if you do it today and you like it, then you can do it again tomorrow! [Laughs].

CONSIDER IT DONE, the brand new single from MARC ROBERTS, is OUT NOW, available on all platforms and to request from radio. You can also tune into Marc’s shows on Galway Bay FM every weekend, The Feel Good Factor (Saturday and Sunday afternoons), and Sunday Night Country.

ENDS

Devin Dawson

First Published April 2021

A MAN OBSESSED

Last Friday singer/songwriter DEVIN DAWSON added a little edge and a lotta cool to the weekend’s new-releases by dropping the ‘Live’ edition of his EP, THE PINK SLIP, the studio version of which came our way earlier this year. Now if you’re any kind of a country music fan at all, then you’ll already be well aware of Dawson from Hardy’s 2019 hit One Beer, on which he featured with Lauren Alaina. And trust me, from the minute you first hit play on ThePink Slip’s opener Range Rover, you know you’re gonna be comin’ back to this collection again, and again, and again. 


Dawson, a native of California, is a man obsessed with music and its depths. Inspired by a magical triumvirate of Johns in the fearsome forms of Cash, Fogerty, and Mayer, he moved to Nashville to study songwriting in college. And yet…he also played bass in a deathcore band called Shadows of the Colossus. Not exactly the kinda guy you’d imagine going on to become someone The Tennessean newspaper would refer to as, “…one of country music’s most tenderand articulate wordsmiths.” And yet…Dawson, who had been on the road for up to three-hundred dates a year for five years prior to Covid, actually owes the ultimate queen of country/pop, Taylor Swift herself, for the break that really set his career in motion. 


I had the pleasure of catching up with Devin a few weeks back, not long after the studio version of The Pink Slip had first entered our sonic solar system. And from a songwriter’s point of view, what a pleasure this chat turned out to be. 


We began by focusing on one of the tracks from The Pink Slip, a song he’s called one of the most important he’s ever written. The song is He Loved Her, and it’s about Devin’s grandfather, Jerry. I’ve loved this song myself from the first time I heard it because it takes me right back to the kinds of songs that made me fall in love with country music, songs from artists like Garth Brooks, Clint Black, Alan Jackson, and Vince Gill in the 90s. So I asked Devin to tell how He Loved Her came to life…


“Yeah, it was actually kind of an interesting day. I came into the writing-room that day and I wanted to write a song, and I don’t know if I was calling it ‘Tombstone’, but something about what I would write on my tombstone. And I tend to get a little, like, darker with my songs sometimes, and sometimes I need my co-writers to help me out and find the middle-ground a little bit [laughs]. They were like, man, we really like the idea, but it’s a little bit too morbid. Is there any way we can soften it up? I wrote it, by the way, with Jordan Reynolds and Nicolle Galyon. And Nicolle was like, ‘Well what if you had three words to put on your tombstone, what would they be?’ And the first thing I said was, he loved her. And I didn’t know why that was the first thing that came to my head. It was just really simple. And Nicolle was like, ‘Well that sounds a little bit more like a title.’ [Laughs]. So we started writing it, and we ended up writing a verse/chorus, and then scrapped the entire thing because it wasn’t quite right yet. We started writing it as a love-story about this guy who loves his wife so much that he wanted to do anything to make her happy, ya know. Like, she wanted him to paint the house, and as soon as he was done, she told him it was the wrong shade! Every morning she’d cook him breakfast and he still ate it even though she burned the eggs, stuff like that [laughs]. And it was funny, but it was almost like I started not to like her as much! And it’s important for me to like everybody in my songs, most of the time. So we went downstairs, had a bite, came back up to the studio and literally started over from scratch. I don’t know if I’ve ever really done that before in a writing session. It’s kinda hard to forget what you’ve [already] done and go forward, tryin’ to find the right thing again. But I said, ya know what? When I think about ‘he loved her’, I think about my grandfather, and I think about my father, I think about my grandma, so why don’t we just go ahead and tell that story.”

I love it when I get the chance to speak with songwriters like Devin. And one of the reasons I was so looking forward to speaking with Devin specifically, is because songwriting is almost literally at the core of who he is. Devin has often spoken about how he writes every day. I wondered if that process is one that happens ‘by the clock’, or more by feel, by the mood of the day? 


“I think it’s both. It helps to do it as if it’s exercising, as if it’s working-out, ya know. It helps to do it every day. You figure out how to instill inspiration, or make it happen sometimes. Obviously I would rather write a song only when I’m inspired, and only when it happens randomly. But I’m not just gonna sit around in a dark house and wait for inspiration to hit, know what I mean? It’s our job to get up and find the inspiration, and use tricks to get us into a place that might inspire us. But a lot of times, when you write every single day…think about how you’re supposed to write something different every single day? Thousands and thousands of times you’re supposed to write something different? It’s really hard, and it’s kind of daunting when you think about that. But, there’s just so many things to write about, and so many different ways to do it. And not every day is great. But I think just talking things out, and saying oh, that’s kind of a cool song, what if we wrote about that? That helps too. I’ve kind of toned it down a little bit, where rather than writing a song every single day, I still write every day, but I don’t want to be force-finishing a song in three hours or four hours. And this year has definitely gifted me a lot more time to focus more on songs that might be served better if I took a little bit longer to write ’em! [Laughs].” 

Devin mentioned using certain ‘tricks’ as part of his songwriting process. I asked him what kind of methods he might be referring to there, if he wouldn’t mind sharing a little about them. But also, because he has those ‘tricks’, would I be right in thinking that he wouldn’t be a believer in the notion of writer’s block? 


“Hmm. I mean, it’s really just about doing it, and then your muscles get used to it. Then you kind of forget that you’re writing a song. Literally, the best thing you can do is just talk to somebody. Just sit down with somebody else that writes – or maybe somebody else that doesn’t, whatever – but just start talking. That’s where the human interaction comes in. And that’s really what a song is anyway, people are listening to you talk to them in musical form. Some of the best ideas just come from talking. Then you kind of build up this sense of – like a radar – something that would be a good song, or at least a cool line, or a different thought. I almost call it like spidey-senses [laughs]. You know how sometimes somebody says something, and you’re like, ‘Whoah, whoah, whoah…that’s a song! Let’s talk that one out!’ So it’s more so just the reputation of it, and figuring out when it is there, I guess. And writer’s block, I’m not a huge believer in it. I’ve definitely been – maybe once in my life – in a place where I thought I had writer’s block. But it’s not writer’s block, it’s just a lack of inspiration really. In Nashville, we do a lot of co-writing where we get together with a couple of different people, and I think that can save us from writer’s block. Because when you’re off, somebody else is on, and that might cause you to be inspired. So that helps. I think if I sat down every day on my own and only wrote by myself, I think I would experience writer’s block more. But that one time where I did feel that I had something along those lines, maybe I was writing but I didn’t like any of it, and I couldn’t finish a song, and I was a little anxious, doubting my skills and things like that. I sat on the couch one day and I said, I don’t care what this is, or how good it is, I’m just gonna write what comes out! I’m not gonna second-guess, I’m not gonna wait for the perfect line, I’m not gonna think about if it’s the right hook, or if it’s right to the title, or whatever! I’m just gonna write a song and see what happens randomly. And I got through that song, and it’s actually a really cool song. It’s a little different because it’s a little more abstract, but what it did was allow me to find some inspiration and get through and still finish something, even if it wasn’t like what I normally deemed as perfect. So again, I think it just helps to be rudimentary and keep doing it over and over. Do it as if it’s an exercise that your body wants to get back into every day.” 

Some country fans here in Ireland will, of course, know Devin from his Pink Slip EP, and more from his Dark Horse album. Even more again might be aware of his talents from his role on Hardy’s hit One Beer, alongside Lauren Alaina, or for co-writing God’s Country for Blake Shelton. But maybe, and without even knowing it, probably half the country will have come across the Blank Space/ Style Taylor Swift mash-up he did with Louisa Wendorff back in 2014. I wondered how defining of a moment was it when Taylor herself ended up sharing that video? 


“I’m not so sure it was defining, it was more…affirmation, I guess. It gave me an opportunity. I feel like that was probably my first big break and the thing that allowed me to have a little bit more attention on me. It was my third year of college, and one of my friends, Louisa, did a bunch of mash-ups and she had a YouTube channel she was trying to build. She was really good at singing, but she didn’t necessarily know as much on the arrangement side, and how to mash-up a song with another song the right way. I was songwriting, and I was singing, and I was really good at arrangements and making things my own. So we kind of just teamed-up, because that’s what you do when you’re in college. You’re surrounded by all these other talented people that are trying to find their way as well. So her and I got together and worked out an arrangement of the two Taylor Swift songs, and I ended up just singing some harmonies. But she was like, well you should take a verse, and I was like, well ok [laughs]. We listened back on the iPhone we did it on, and we thought, well that’s really cool actually! So then we talked to our other friend if she’d do a video for us and she was like, yeah. And then I talked to my twin brother, Jakob, the producer, and I was like can you record this for us? It was just kids having fun, and thinking what we did was really cool, so we wanted to share it. That was really all we did it for. We made the video, put it out, and somehow…Taylor saw it…I still don’t know how, I think her dad might have shown her is the rumour, but I’m not really sure. She saw it, and tweeted it out, and put it on her Facebook and Instagram and everything. It absolutely blew up and went viral and all that stuff. And it gave me the opportunity to ask myself, ok, what do I want? Do I want to be an artist? Do I want to just write songs? I’ve been in bands since I was twelve, thirteen years old, so being on the stage was something that was really important to me. And having a chance to do it myself, not with a band, kinda selfishly saying this is what I wanna say. I think I would have done it without Taylor, but it would have looked a lot different. But I’m thankful for her for putting me up there and giving me the platform and the opportunity to skip some steps and be discovered like that. How that informed the rest of my career was definitely priceless. I’m very thankful for what she’s done.”

“I still haven’t met her”, revealed Devin, continuing, “but I’d love to give her a hug and say thanks one day [laughs]. Maybe write a song or something!” 

I’d heard that Devin had actually been gracious enough to write Taylor a thank-you letter…


“Yeah, you know we’re very close as far as our proximity, she lives in Nashville, and I know a lot of people who are really close with her. And I’ve talked with her parents. There were a couple of people in the industry that I know really well, who were really close with her, and I asked one of ’em, I said hey, if I just wrote a simple thank-you would you forward it to her? And this person said of course, and I just said thanks [in the letter]. I honestly had forgotten that I did that until you said that. I just wanted to say in it, hey, you just pretty much kick-started my career, whether you knew it or not, so I just wanted to say thanks. I owe you at least that! [Laughs].” 

It’s also worth noting that around the time all of that happened, Taylor – because the lady oozes class in every possible way – made sure Devin got tickets to the Nashville stop of her 1989 tour. And, not only that, she made sure that Devin and Louisa’s mash-up video was part of the evening’s pre-show entertainment, too. 

Getting back to Pink Slip, and Devin’s song, I Got A Truck, Devin has shared how it was written following a late-night chat with none other than Tim McGraw. Again, I love to hear about how moments like this end up sparking a song. I asked Devin would he mind talking us through that night and taking us into that kind of moment, and of course, to tell us about the song itself too…


“Essentially, I went on tour with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill for a couple of summers, and I just got to know them. The first night we were opening up, I finished my set, and we end with Dark Horse and I let my band play the outro out as I walk off stage as I give hugs and shake hands and stuff. I was walking to the back of the arena, and for whatever reason, Tim McGraw – I think he had a lot of family in town that night because it was in Louisiana which is his home state – but for whatever reason, his dressing room was right next to ours that night. Usually it’s on the other side of the arena! So it was the first night, I got off stage, went back to my dressing room, and Tim was just standing there in the hallway warming up his voice, singing with his guitar player. It was just a really good opportunity for an icebreaker so I walked up with my guitar and started singing and playing, and said thanks for having me out. He just kind of started going into a wisdom conversation, if you will. He started telling me about some advice that he’s held onto all these years, things that he thought it was important for me to hold onto. I think he just saw a lot of himself in me at that time, and he just wanted to share his story. He was telling me about how he got his start in Nashville from a guy named Brian Williams who was a banker. Tim pleaded his case, told him he’d trade him his truck and all this because he needed some money because no-one else would believe in him. I was just sitting there listening to this story and thinking, jeez, this IS a f*$king song! [Laughs]. Again, it’s like that spidey-sense of something telling me that this needs to be written. But I just couldn’t stop thinking about it after we talked, and how much I related to that story, and how much a lot of it was my story as well, my same experience. I just ran with it. I was inspired by it, it wasn’t like I was forcing it. I had been inspired by it. I stayed up to like two in the morning writing it that night, and ended up recording it with the band on the bus, and givin’ it to Tim at the end of the tour, ya know, as a thanks for inspiring us, and thanks for having us out. It was just a really cool moment.” 

I also loved reading about how Devin’s song All On Me came to be written, with him listing out everything that could be all on him, to trying three or four different grooves behind it. And then, fast forward to August 3rd 2018, and the moment comes when All On Me was certified platinum. Now that’s a kind of moment that a lot of songwriters will only ever be able to dream about. What was the significance of that moment for Devin, on both a personal and a professional level? 


“Man, I don’t know. I think at that time especially, I was just goin’ so fast. There were so many things goin’ on in my life. If you go back to when that was happening and you look at my Instagram, every single day there was stuff happening. That’s what you dream of, but you also don’t realise how fast and how blinded you are [by it]. You literally have to wake up every single day and from seven to midnight just go and run, run, run, run, run. At the time, I didn’t even quantify what that all meant to me as a platinum-selling song, a song I wrote with my friends (Jacob Durrett, Austin Smith). Even now, it’s hard for me to quantify that sometimes, just because I can’t get out on the road and see what it means! I think a lot of times we quantify our success by when we play a show. Are people singing it back? Is it sold-out? Are people having a good time? It’s just hard for me to quantify. Like you said, as big of a moment as that is, especially being the first time it had happened, I think it was really just a little bit of affirmation. Like, I knew what I was doing was good, I liked it [laughs], ya know what I mean? [Laughs]. But you never really know if anybody else is gonna like it. So it was really like a quick moment of ok, I’m on the right track…keep goin’! It wasn’t like, I’ve made it, I’m done! [Laughs].”

Staying with the craft of Devin’s songwriting, he once said in an interview with Rolling Stone – when talking about the level of detail he gives to his lyrics – that, “I always know the rhyme that feels right or the word that is the right one to express that sentiment that I’m trying to go for.” I asked Devin to talk about the nuts-and-bolts of his songwriting – aspects like rhyme, rewriting, syllables in a line – and other elements that are crucial to the detail of how he writes…


“I think the more that you write, you discover your own superpower within a song. A couple of mine are knowing what rhyme is right, regardless of if I don’t know what comes before it yet, I feel like most of the time I know. Either it’s not right and something else is hiding there, or this is the right word so we need to figure out how to say everything before it. Another thing that I feel is one of my superpowers is knowing where certain things go in a song. Like, sometimes before you start a song, you just start talking and you’re like, well what if the chorus started with this? And then someone else says something but I’m like no, that sounds like the second verse. Or that sounds like the bridge, or whatever. Knowing where a certain idea goes in a song is something that I’m really conscious of, especially in country music. A lot of time you don’t want to just give everything to them [the listeners] in the first verse. You want to give them a reason to listen to the second verse. And you want to make sure that when they get to the third chorus, they’re not just like, ‘Oh, we’re here again,’ ya know. You want it to be, ‘Oh, we’re here again!!’ There’s certain little things, like details like that, that I think the more you do it, the more you gravitate towards what you want. I think there’s a lot of power – not in rewriting, necessarily – but in editing. I think rewriting a song probably means that it wasn’t good enough. Or that the idea wasn’t good enough. Or for whatever reason you didn’t write it right that day. So I think it’s more about editing, and taking a good song to a great song by just changing the word ‘but’ to ‘and.’ Sometimes it’s just getting it all out and just expelling this creativity, and getting it to the best place you can, then putting it aside and waking up the next morning and listening to it. I bet ya you’ll hear a million more melodies and a couple more words, and you’ll be like why didn’t I just say that?! [Laughs]. Getting some space from a song is something that’s really, really important.” 

Going back to God’s Country, a hit so big that it’s almost become a living entity in itself. A Billboard Hot Country Songs #1, a platinum seller, Single of the Year at the 2019 CMA Awards, a Grammy nominee in 2020, and winner of the ACM Single of the Year prize that same year…but… does that kind of success bring any kind of negative pressure with it? The kind that, perhaps, might hinder or harm a writer less sure of themselves than Devin? In the sense that sometimes when someone has a hit with a certain type of song, everybody then wants that song’s ‘brother’, or the latest version of that song…


“Yeah [laughs]. Yeah, but I didn’t feel any pressure from it at all. I think because it was a song for somebody else, there was no pressure attached to it. Like, if I had released ‘God’s Country’ as an artist, and I had a huge hit on it, I think there would be pressure for me to come back with another hit as an artist. As a songwriter, I write every single day, and I write so many different things, ya know. But no, I didn’t really feel any pressure from that song. I think, if anything, it allowed me to feel less pressure, and opened my own mind to things that we could ‘get away with’ or whatever. Because when we wrote that, it was probably something that was more Hardy was gonna sing, than I was. It was a little bit more redneck, or country I guess [laughs], than I would normally go. Or at least that’s what I told myself [laughs]. But the cool thing about that song is that when Blake did it and made it a hit – and it would definitely not have been as big of a hit if Hardy or I cut it! – and we’re thankful to Blake for that, but when it became a hit I started putting it into my ‘live’ shows in my set, and doing my version of it. And I recorded a little acoustic version of it. And I started to realise that this was my own version of it, this is how I would do the song. And it made me realise that, no matter what it is, if I wrote it and I’m singing it, it’s a Devin Dawson song. It doesn’t matter if it’s ‘too this’ or ‘too that’, people don’t care about those intricacies. They just want to hear something you wrote. So rather than make pressure, I think it relieved pressure in my own mind as far as what I could sing as an artist. If that makes sense?” 


And indeed, it did make sense. And it might also have answered part of my last question for Devin, which might also take him back to that moment with Tim McGraw. What’s the best piece of advice that he’s ever been given as a songwriter? And to follow that up, what’s the biggest lesson Devin has ever learned as a songwriter? 


“Gosh, advice? Man! I don’t know, I think the best thing you can do is just do it a lot. I think we all suck at some point [laughs]. It’s about how obsessed you are with it. Like, I just love writing songs! I’ll literally be in the middle of a conversation with somebody and they’ll say something, and I’ll go into a trance and start thinking about songs because of what they said! And they’re completely talking still, and I have no idea what they’re saying anymore [laughs]. I can’t help that, ya know! That’s just something that I was born to be enthralled by. I think walking around with the mysticism of always looking around and opening your eyes and opening your ears, I think that will inform your songwriting. Be obsessed with it. Just like anything else, if you’re not obsessed with it, then you probably shouldn’t do it! I think that’s a huge thing. And then, as far as the lesson goes, yeah, what I said earlier. Even though that informs my artistry even more than my songwriting, I think.” 

THE PINK SLIP (LIVE), the brand NEW EP from DEVIN DAWSON, is OUT NOW, available on all platforms. The original PINK SLIP EP is also available on all platforms. 

ENDS 

Twinnie

First Published April 2021

REIMAGINING THE WORLD

There are some dreams shared by artists all around the world when it comes to certain moments in their career. Take the release of a debut album, for instance. British singer/songwriter TWINNIE waited her whole life for that moment to arrive. And when HOLLYWOOD GYPSY finally did officially come into the world on April 17th 2020…it was smack-bang in the early days of a pandemic. Not ideal, to say the least. 


In normal circumstances, there’d be a somewhat straight line between moments like hearing the mastered songs for the first time, holding the physical album in your hands for the first time, seeing the album advertised in print or online for the first time. Every moment, really, is a first of some kind. And each of those moments, of course, generally leads to the biggest moment of them all…performing the album ‘live’, in front of your fans, for the very first time. 


But…when all of the above happen, but that final – arguably most important, most exciting, most liberating and climactic moment of all – just can’t…that’s heartbreaking. And tough to deal with, too, because…well, what DO you do then? 


Well, that was the set of circumstances Twinnie (full name Twinnie Lee Moore) found herself in a year ago, and has been living with ever since. And while it was heartbreaking, and Twinnie doesn’t shy away from that truth, she’s nothing if not resilient. Yes, it was among the cruelest possible twists of fate for any artist launching their debut album, but the great thing about Twinnie – as anyone who knows her will testify to – is that the fire within her always finds a way to burn brighter than whatever dark moments may shade her life from time to time. Twinnie is a beacon of light in every aspect of her life, from her music to her personality, in large part because her instinctive sense of the real leaves her with no other option than for her music and personality to be ever-entwined. Even if, at times, that has meant taking to the battlefield of principles. But with Twinnie, if something needs to get done, it gets done. 


Unable to perform or promote Hollywood Gypsy after its release last year, Twinnie satisfied her innate need to remain creative and positive by first recording a beautiful acoustic version of the album which dropped in October 2020. And now, on April 17th, a year to the day since Hollywood Gypsy first announced Twinnie’s brilliance in long-form, she has reimagined five tracks for the album for a very special EP. 


I had the pleasure of spending some time in Twinnie’s company last weekend, and I began our chat by asking her to talk through her choice of songs for Hollywood Gypsy (Reimagined) …

“Well all of them on the album are my favourites [laughs]. But one we picked is Daddy Issues. The studio version is very uptempo, and I think a lot of stuff, when it is uptempo, people kind of miss the lyrics. So I really wanted to highlight those lyrics in a different way and show off a different kind of style and perspective. I really believe – and I think this is something that I struggle with within the music industry, is that everyone’s always trying to put you in a box, and in a day and age where we can’t even label people anymore – but I really believe that there’s just two types of music, it’s either good or it’s bad. So I wanted to highlight that a song – if it’s well written – can be heard in different ways. Imagine the song to be the girl and the production to be a dress, well you can dress it up in whatever [kind of] production, and someone will hear it differently. I wanted to give a new lease of life to these songs. I wasn’t ready to let them die yet, I guess! Releasing them in a pandemic wasn’t the most amazing thing for me [laughs]. but it did alright. But I still haven’t managed to play it ‘live’ yet. The album will have been out eighteen months before I get a chance to play this stuff ‘live.’ So I thought this would be a nice nod to the album, and to the long journey that I’ve had throughout music, just to kind of redirect people back towards the studio album too, and maybe they’ll have a different perspective on the songs. So we picked ‘Daddy Issues’ as one, and it’s very different.” 

Twinnie continued, “Feeling Of Falling, it’s quite uptempo anyway, but I wanted to do a few versions where they were straight pop, like Dua Lipa, something that you can dance to. ‘I Love You Now Change’ and ‘Feeling Of Falling’ are very much like that. ‘Better When I’m Drunk’ – which is an instant download when you pre-order – it’s making fun of myself in the original version, like in the video. But I thought, actually really, underneath the surface of that, there’s quite a lot of hurt and pain. I think this one just really suited being a ballad. Again, that was to encourage the listener to hear it in a different way, even though it’s a party song. So we wanted to completely reimagine it. Then we’ve got ‘Hollywood Gypsy’, which is one of my favourites, and I just wanted to dance to that! So I had an idea of well, what if it was a kind of a funk version, with the bass and the drums really being prominent, so kind of a bit more cool in that…I wouldn’t even know how to describe it [Laughs]. I guess I can play you a little bit, just to give you a little bit more of a reference. I’m just gonna try and play you this…I have so many Dropbox links! [Laughs]. Here we go, this is it…” 

At this point, Twinnie proceeded to share a few moments of the reimagined version of Hollywood Gypsy, and let me tell you, there is a serious vibe a-coming! 

“So it’s got that very 90s, hip-hop, r’n’b kinda vibe, I guess. On some of them, they’re completely new vocals. Obviously ‘Daddy Issues’ is, and I think all of them are apart from ‘Hollywood Gypsy’ where we used the original vocal, and just rearranged the track. It was really fun to go back and delve into these stories. And for me especially to go, ok, so how can I reimagine this? I’m really proud of ‘Daddy Issues’, I just love that song. It’s such a great sonic sound. And then ‘Hollywood Gypsy’ is just so fun to dance to…”

So going by what Twinnie was telling me about the title track, her Reimagined EP wasn’t simply going to be an acoustic affair, as such projects can often be…


“Well we did a whole acoustic version of the album, because I just needed something because, again, it’s just such an anti-climax moment when you release an album in a pandemic. Because I wasn’t able to promote it. So I sat there in my room, in my bedroom, and really I just cried my eyes out. I had been thinking that this was going to be a big massive moment for me, and then it wasn’t. I didn’t really that from my team either. It was like, ‘Oh congratulations’, and then ok, we’re onto the next thing now. And that was no fault of theirs, because we didn’t have anything to push to. But it was a real kind of…I guess I was humbled without needing to be humbled. Like, I need to let go of any expectations that my music will do well or that it will connect. I do music for me. If it connects with people, then great. I just really turned back to some of the great people that I’ve admired so much. Like Billy Joel tried to kill himself after the first album he released. And Queen and Freddie had their struggles. All of these amazing people that I grew up listening to, even Judy Garland. Art imitates life, I think, and vice-versa. So I was like, I can either be downtrodden about this situation, or I can use it as a catalyst to create more, And I think, honestly, it’s been one of my best years. I released a podcast called ‘Breaking Through’ to help inspire other people. I wrote my first screenplay. Worked with Alan Menken, Andy Garcia, Mary Steenburgen. So many things happened out of being bored, and everybody else stopping. I was just like I’m not gonna do that! I’m just gonna use this as a catalyst.”

Twinnie is in Nashville at the moment writing for a new project…


“Yeah, I’m working on some new music with my record label, BBR, which is owned by BMG, so we’re just working on a new EP to take to country radio. Obviously that won’t happen straight away. The label actually didn’t want to put these new reimagined versions out, even though I produced it last year, cos’ they wanted my next look to be all-hands-on-deck for the American stuff. But I felt that it was just such a waste not to have these songs heard, and to celebrate the album, so I just did it anyway [laughs]. I often do that [laughs].” 

While in Nashville – from where she was speaking to me via the magic of Zoom – Twinnie will also be getting a much welcomed and long-awaited chance to perform again during her time in Music City, when she plays a writers’-round at the Listening Room on April 20th. But that ’round’ is part of something far bigger, and something which Twinnie clearly feels deeply passionate about…


“So, during this pandemic, I wrote a song called ‘I Know A Woman’, and launching from that next year is a global initiative trying to create more opportunity and community for women. So we’re setting up these residencies called ‘I Know A Woman’ and raffling off merch and stuff to raise money for global women’s charities. And we’ve got our first writing-camp of ‘I Know A Woman’ this weekend, so I’m really busy. So I’m a founder of that, and we’re in meetings with the Grammys, MusicCares, Women In Music, CMA. People should follow our Instagram page. Basically we highlight different talents of different women from all sorts of industries. Launching on International Womens’ Day next year, we’ve got a project called Nominate, Collaborate, or Donate. We’re setting up an ‘I Know A Woman’ music fund for grants, and a wellness fund as well to help with therapy and all that kind of stuff. The collaboration is obviously writers’ camps, where we get established writers to come and write with unknowns or smaller artists who haven’t had their break yet. So it’s that pass-the-mic thing. On the nominate side of things, on International Womens’ Day we’re asking everybody to give up their socials to a woman in their field that can have access to their audience for the day. So you’re empowering another woman, which is in turn empowering other women to have this back of forth that says hey, we are stronger together. Women in the music industry, especially artist to artist, feel like they’re pitted up against each other, especially in country music where ‘the gatekeepers’ don’t play women enough. It’s even worse on Spotify. You look at those curated Spotify playlists, there’s like fifty songs and three of then are women. It’s disgraceful. So I’m creating a board of directors with all the heads of the PROs like BMI, ASCAP, PRS, there’ll be someone from Apple, someone from Spotify. Those are the most influential people in the music industry, so why is it not changing?

Tunecore did a massive global study of the last ten years, and we’re still massively under-represented. So I’ve been speaking to the Home Office about going in [to schools] and doing workshops called ‘I Know A Song’ for kids, to get to the root of the problem, so we can educate them on being a songwriter, being an artist, being in the music business, A & R, music publisher, any of those. So you create from the bottom up this ethos that we’re all in it together. The music industry is hard, it really is for everyone. I think it’s especially discriminatory against women. I was on Clubhouse yesterday where this music exec – female – asked this girl her age. Firstly, she didn’t ask any of the men. The girl said she was thirty-three. She has a stunning voice, amazing. But the music exec was like, ‘Lie about your age, honey, say you’re twenty-five, sex sells.’ This exec was like a fifty-five year old woman! This is such an unhealthy narrative to be feeding younger generations. We’ve got a responsibility to protect these children that are finding it more easy on Tik-Tok. Labels are just signing them for insurance purposes, in case they get big. They’re given deals but there’s no kind of mental health care, to say ok, this is what you’re stepping into, this is what you can expect, what you need to be careful of. There’s none of that. I really feel like now is the time for change. Nashville has a great community, and I’m trying to pick up that community and place it in other territories for ‘I Know A Woman’ writers’-rounds, like the UK, Sweden, Australia, Berlin, everywhere, to give women a safe place to come to to be supported. No age-limit, no genre, people can just come and play and listen. I’m really passionate about creating a much safer, encouraging environment within the music industry. We have to hold these people accountable; labels, publishers, managers, agents. These are lives that some people are destroying, and it needs to stop.

As an artist, and hopefully in a few years I’m gonna become a mum, I want to feel that if my kid wanted to be in music that they’d be safe and protected. I’ve been in so many situations that have been uncomfortable. I was once told to ‘shut the f*&k up in front of the head of my label, in front of three men. And nobody stuck up for me. If my mum was in there, she would have decked him! I don’t tell her this stuff because it would be so upsetting for her. But I have to deal with that sometimes on a daily basis. And I’m quite an alpha-female, I can handle myself, nobody really speaks to me like that. So I did say something. But I thought, what if you’ve got a sixteen year old girl that is timid and is meek, yet is so talented, but she gets her dreams crushed? I just want to take that experience and make sure no-one has to deal with that. There should be no assholes, but there are, there are ones that we have to deal with every day. But it’s nice to be nice! It really is. And I’m a full believer that the more you give, the more you receive. I’m not doing this for money. I’ve set up a label, but I have no interest in running a label! But I want to create an infrastructure that just runs itself. So up-and-coming A&Rs that actually want to do that, they have a place to come and work. Also, the label is giving songwriters points on the record, which is a massive point of difference to what’s going on at the minute. We’re even in chats with big fashion designers at the minute because we want to reach out to other creative sectors about them creating the merch, with 100% of the proceeds going to global womens’ charities.” 

“I’m sorry, I just went on a tirade about something else other than my EP [laughs]. This is happening tomorrow, that’s why it’s on my brain!”

Twinnie has tour dates back home in the UK in September…


“Yeah, and I keep getting asked to go to Ireland, but there are no plans yet. But I should go. But the UK dates going ahead, I mean, I hope so! That would be horrendous to have to cancel it for a THIRD time! I’m sure it will be fine. They’re on about no more restrictions by June 21st. I don’t think they’re going to be able to hold people down any longer.” 

Twinnie has mentioned her Breaking Through podcast a little earlier in our chat, something else that she’s clearly very passionate about…


“Yeah, and it all stems from just trying to inspire people in a pandemic, and this is where the ‘I Know A Woman’ idea came from, because we interviewed a lady called Heidi Rose Robbins that has an amazing TedX talk about amazing women that she knew. We interview people from all industries, from the top of their field. We’ve got people like Dave Stewart on it, and Mimi D who does nails for Beyonce. Music is music, and I’m a part of that world, but I understand the creative brain, and all these people – whether they’re poets or astrologers – they all use the same part of the brain. We’ve even interviewed a top scientist because I’m so intrigued by how the body works. I think it’s cool to have a podcast that’s not just the glamour-side of peoples’ jobs. Although peoples’ stories are uniquely different, they all have the same common thread of persistence beats resistance. And truly, doing it during the pandemic really gave me a lot of hope because I was in a pretty dark place when the album came out. I was super-sad about everything. You’re just like, ‘I spent the last ten years getting here…!’ And then…! So yeah, it helped me, it was like therapy for me, and I’m hoping a lot of other people will feel that it’s inspiring. We’ve had great feedback, even though it only launched a couple of weeks ago.”

Speaking of inspirational people, Twinnie was on a podcast with American country singer Mickey Guyton back in February. And Mickey, as one of the most visible black female artists in American country music, has emerged as a formidable voice and spirit of note this past year…


“We did it for the BBC, it was me, Mickey, Abby Anderson, and Jimmie Allen. It’s really interesting speaking to other artists because I find that most of the time, unless we’re like really good friends, we just kind of keep quiet about our struggles. I don’t know if that’s just ingrained in us. So I think opening up that conversation to the public and to fans, letting them know that it’s really f*&king hard guys! Like, the music bit is easy. The f*&king music industry is a sh*tshow to navigate, especially as a woman. I never want to be played just because I’m a woman. I want to be played because my music is undeniable. Unfortunately, in some rooms, it doesn’t matter how undeniable you are. They would just prefer to play men. It’s really sad. And Mickey, I don’t know if she’s even getting played on country radio, but I hope she is. And I think she’s inspiring regardless, just to those black women in country music who are up-and-coming. It doesn’t always have to be a white face, or a male, or a cowboy hat, ya know. That’s why I love country music, because it’s very diverse, it represents different layers of people. Mickey was just really inspiring to listen to, because we both have the same kinds of struggles, but in a different way. It’s funny to me how they sign you, you have to fit in their box, but even though they loved you in the first place for what you were – Twinnie – they try to make you fit into this market, when sometimes they don’t know where to place you. Especially for me, because I think my stuff is more pop than anything in the UK. Trying to put me in a country that doesn’t really celebrate country music was a really bad, poor decision. They didn’t really listen to me.

“It’s fine to be country/pop here [in Nashville] because there’s a market for it. So I had a very turbulent time of protesting who I was as an artist. I was like, hey, this is my music. You signed me as something you considered country, but you don’t even know what country is. Like, have you listened to the Spotify playlists? Dan and Shay and Justin Bieber are doing something together. It’s palatable pop. It’s storytelling pop. Look at Shania Twain and Taylor Swift. So that was so frustrating for me. Having somebody else who has been through those same struggles and for her to go, ‘Stick to being yourself, that’s why people love you, don’t change!’ And it’s so funny, they [record labels] say once you have a hit you can do anything, but no, that’s not true. I would rather die on the hill, die by the sword that says I’m Twinnie, this is what I do. If you like it, great. If you don’t, fine. It doesn’t matter. But I’m not gonna spend my first album, my first look to the world, being something that I’m not proud of, that I don’t think represents me.”

Saying do something else and if it’s a hit then we’ll go back to what you want to do, screw that. That doesn’t work anyway. We saw that multiple times with artists who wanted to be a bit left-field but were turned into mainstream. Look at James Bay. My best friend produced that record, it didn’t go down well in the charts but I think it’s a great album. Your fans evolve with you, and I just didn’t want to not be myself for the first one. I struggled with that. I struggled with that with management, I struggled with that with my label, with press, I struggled with that across the board. Again, going back to the music, the music is easy for me. But when you feel like you’re a part of something that doesn’t quite get it, the emotional effect that has, and the mental damage that can do to a person, is really s*&t. So to have another artist say, ‘Hey girl, I’ve been through the same thing…’ – and Abby was the same, and Jimmie was the same. I’m like, oh my gosh! WHY do they sign people and not let them just create?! It’s just boring to me otherwise. Do you want me to just sound the same as everybody else? No. You want people to be creative because once you are creative and out of your comfort-zone, that’s when you get magic. So that’s what I endeavour, all the time, to do. Because I’d rather be different and have people hate my sound, rather than just think yeah, that’s cool…it sounds like this…! So yeah, talking to Mickey was awesome. And I know that was very long-winded! [Laughs]. I’ve had a coffee! [Laughs].”

~ The HOLLYWOOD GYPSY (Reimagined) EP from TWINNIE, is now available to pre-order on BANDCAMP, and will be released on April 17th. 

ENDS

Lainey Wilson

First Published February 2021

FEELIN’ IT WITH HER WHOLE HEART

If you’re a country music fan who pays attention to what’s going on across the Atlantic, then you’ll already have been singing along to Things A Man Oughta Know by LAINEY WILSON for quite a while. The track was first released as part of her 2019 EP Redneck Hollywood, and to date has racked up in excess of thirty-five million streams, an achievement which earned it a place on Spotify’s Nashville Worldwide Hot 50. Things A Man Oughta Know was also featured in NPR’s (National Public Radio) Best Music of 2019, who referred in glowing terms to Lainey’s “honeyed, crystalline twang.” And as of last Friday, Things A Man Oughta Know and the gorgeous, warm, southern charm of Lainey’s vocals can be enjoyed on her brand new long-player, SAYIN’ WHAT I’M THINKIN’. 


Approaching the tenth anniversary of when she first rolled into Nashville in her camper, Lainey is a prolific songwriter and every song on this new collection has a piece of her heart running through it. Heralded as one of CMT’s (Country Music Television) Next Women of Country in 2019, and also featured on MusicRow’s Next Big Thing 2021 list, Lainey likes to call her sound ‘bell bottom country’, a style which blends traditional country with a funky but modern flair. In short, Lainey’s music, much like any encounter or experience with the lady herself, will leave you with a great big smile on your face, and with your world brightened immeasurably by the light she pours into life through everything she does. Am I a fan? Damn right, I am! And if you’re not one already as well, then you will be as soon as you hear Neon Diamonds – the opener on Sayin’ What I’mThinkin’ – kick in. Much like Lainey, it’s pure country bliss. 


Last week, I had the pleasure of spending some time in Lainey’s company when the release of Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’ was just days away. With that personal and career milestone so close, and her schedule all kinds of crazy right now, I began our chat by asking Lainey what life was like as she counted down the hours until release day? 


“I am on cloud nine! I seriously cannot believe it that it’s about to be here, somethin’ that I’ve worked so hard for. My team have just worked their fingers to the bone for this, it feels good! I’m humbled and excited. This record is who I am, what I want to say, and how I want to say it. And it’s pretty damn cool that I can put something out to the world that is truly who I am.” 

I wondered how Lainey felt about her album coming into the world when the world itself is such a very strange place these days? 


“I think, more than ever, people need music. The power of music is really unbelievable, and the healing that it can really do. Music has always been that way. But clearly, it’s been a rough time for everybody around the entire world. And even though these songs specifically aren’t even talking about that, at least it’s a good place for people to kind of escape, or just kind of be in the moment.” 

As if an album release wasn’t enough for Lainey to be feeling excited about when we spoke, she was also getting ready to play the Grand Ole Opry again last Saturday night. The Opry not being somewhere that you can just rock up to on showday and wing it, I asked Lainey about how she was preparing for that big night…


“Oh absolutely it’s not! [laugh]. Honestly, when you just brought it up and reminded me, I got nervous all over again! [laughs]. It is so cool and I’m so excited that I’m being invited back, it really is an honour every single time. I dreamed about being up there when I was a little girl. I remember being nine years old, and I remember exactly where I was sitting in the crowd. We saw Bill Anderson, ‘Little’ Jimmy Dickens, Crystal Gayle, Phil Vassar…and I just knew, a crazy, crazy feeling came around me, that I was going to have the opportunity to do that. How do I prepare? [laughs] I don’t know if you can fully prepare, honestly [laughs]. It’s kinda one of those things where you just say a prayer, take a shot of whiskey, and do the thing! [laughs].” 

We’d only just gone past Valentine’s Weekend when Lainey and I spoke, and it was actually on St. Valentine’s Day last year that Lainey made her Grand Ole Opry debut. I asked her what was going through her mind just before she walked out on stage, and, after experiencing such a high, did she get any sleep at all when she got home that night? 


“[Laughs] It was truly unbelievable! And I was so nervous, and for weeks before it, leading up to my debut. But the crazy thing is that right when Terri Clark introduced me and I walked out there on that stage, I had this overwhelming feeling of peace and calmness all around me. It was a huge moment for me, but I felt like I was at home. That was just a reminder, ya know, that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. It makes me get emotional even talking about it, because it truly is one of the most magical places for country music. It IS THE most magical place for country music. To stand on that stage and be a part of it is…overwhelming!”

People often say that in some of the biggest moments of their lives everything seems to pass by almost in a flash and is over before they even know it. So I wondered if Lainey could actually recall being up on stage and in the middle of her performance that night? 


“Yes! As soon as I stepped foot inside that circle, it’s like the entire world just stopped turning, just for a second. And it was just like my dreams were seriously coming to fruition and that was just a huge step for me, and in my life. It made me feel like that nine year old little girl sittin’ out in the crowd wasn’t completely crazy [laughs]. It was just this weird, nostalgic feeling that this was what I was born to do. And damn it, I’m doin’ it! [Laughs].” 

Lainey has co-written every song on Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’, and if anyone was to try and describe her in just one word, then I think ‘songwriter’ would have to be high on that list. Lainey has spoken before about how important a good hook is in her songwriting, and how that tends to be a starting-point for her more often than not. I asked Lainey how that songwriting process usually unfolds, and if she has a routine around her songwriting? 


“Ya know, the cool thing about songwriting for me is that it’s honestly different every single time I sit down in a writing room. Sometimes, the ideas fall out of the sky. Sometimes, the melodies fall out of the sky. Sometimes, you have to fight for it. I get a lot of my ideas just from listening to peoples’ conversations, just finding hools and words that draw me in and catch my attention. It’s so cool because I’ve been able to write with a lot of incredible songwriters here in Nashville who have just taught me so much. And I love being in the room with people who can teach me somethin.’ I want to learn somethin’ every single time I sit down. I’ve been able to learn how to put myself into the shoes of whatever it is that we’re writing. If we wanted to write about that tree outside or whatever, well, you put yourself into the shoes of that tree and write about how that tree is feelin.’ That’s so cool that you can do that with songwriting. It’s like acting for three or four hours or however long it is that it takes you to write the song. I will tell you the songs that end up sticking out for me, and the ones that I end up actually recording in the studio, are the ones that are the most real and true to me. The ones that I have gone through or experienced. It’s pretty cool. I mean, every single song on my record really is true to who I am, and down to my core tells my story.” 

Lainey had mentioned her nine year old self when we were talking about the Grand Ole Opry, and as it happens, there’s a particularly interesting line in her bio about how she also started writing songs at nine…about tequila and cigarettes! I reminded Lainey of that old writer’s adage, to write about what you know, and told her I hoped that wasn’t what she was doing back then! 


“[Laughs] That is so funny! Anthony, I’ve always been like an old soul, you could say. I sang that song when I was nine years old to my parents. And it definitely had tequila and cigarettes in and they were like, well first of all, we don’t have alcohol in the house and neither one of us smokes cigarettes, so we don’t know where this little girl picked this up! [Laughs]. But I’d been listening! I’m always super-aware. And I knew that I heard it in a few country songs, so I said hey, let’s put it in there! I don’t know what it means, but let’s put it in there [laughs].” 

What I, as a fan, love about Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’, is that it clearly matches who Lainey is as a person. It’s country, inescapably and unapologetically. Honesty pours out of every lyric. A sense of fun runs through this whole collection of songs. And, you can tell that Lainey just wants fans to enjoy listening to it every bit as much as she enjoyed recording it. And I know this matches up with who Lainey is as a person because in every interview I’ve ever heard with her she manages to laugh, and have fun, while always staying true to the importance of the songs from a songwriter’s and a musician’s perspective. So what I wanted to know was how has Lainey managed to maintain the positive attitude and outlook on life that she so evidently has? As she closes in on her tenth year in Nashville, and is now becoming that proverbial ‘overnight success’, there must have been times along the way that were tough to navigate…


“There’s been times when I probably should have packed my bags and moved home. But I’ll tell you the truth, and tell you that that really has never crossed my mind. I’ve always known that this is what I was supposed to do. And I knew it was goin’ to take me a long time. In August, I’ll have been here for ten years. But it’s just one of those things, I’ve known it deep in my heart and in my gut, this is it. There’s no Plan B. I felt like if I had a Plan B, then Plan A wasn’t gonna work! [Laughs]. So, the things that have kept me goin’, first of all is prayer, for me. The second thing is little bitty steps in the right direction. Those are the things that would keep me going. When I see progress, I’m like, ‘Alright, one step closer! What’s next?’ Those are the things that seriously just keep me excited and happy. And also, ya know, just seein’ the reaction and the connection that people are makin’ to the music. THAT is a songwriter’s dream, to see people really gravitate towards what you poured your heart and soul into. It’s pretty magical. And it just keeps me on my toes and makes me want to continue doin’ it every day.” 

Speaking of songwriters and dreams, I had to ask Lainey about Ashley McBryde. I have always believed that every dreamer needs a believer in their corner, and Ashley has certainly been that for Lainey. I asked her about a particular conversation I knew the two had about this subject on Ashley’s tour bus one night, and also what having that kind of support of someone like Ashley means to Lainey for the kind of person she wants to be as well? 


“Ya know, I have looked up to Ashley McBryde for a long time. And I’ve also seen that it has taken her a really long time to kind of break through. It gives people like me the courage to just stick it out. More than anything, Ashley McBryde is extremely talented. And it’s very rare that you’ll find somebody who stands in your corner that’s just as kind as they are talented. And that is the definition of Ashley McBryde, I’m tellin’ you right now. She wants to see me win. It ain’t this competition thing, I mean, truly. With everything in her, she wants to see me win. Talkin’ about that story on her bus one night, I believe we were in..maybe…Texas? Shoot, i don’t even know. But we were on the road. And we were drinkin’ whiskey [laughs], cos’ you know, the truth comes out when the whiskey comes out! [Laughs]. We had been playin’ music on the bus and she grabbed my hand, and she said, ‘Lainey, I love you, and I believe in you, and I want to help pull you over this wall. But you gotta promise me that whenever you find somebody that you love and believe in as much as I love and believe in you, you’ll do the same exact thing.’ And that right there, is it. That’s really it! I plan on doin’ that when I can. It’s about supportin’ people, genuinely supportin’ people, and lovin’ ’em. I mean, at the end of the day, we all moved to Nashville with the same dream and the same goal. And we know just how bad each other truly does want it. There’s nobody like Ashley.” 

From a little town called Baskin, near Monroe in Louisiana, Lainey opened for the great American country star Tracy Lawrence in Monroe when she was just eighteen years old. Fast-forward to last year, and Lainey was on tour with Tracy and Justin Moore before Covid brought the world of ‘live’ music to a halt. I asked Lainey to tell me about being on the road with those guys, and especially about something which most people might not appreciate the significance of, the fact that both men would regularly stand side-stage and watch Lainey open each night’s show…


“It’s so crazy, ya know, like, the artists that I grew up listening to, having the opportunity to go on the road for people like them was a huge moment for me. But the cooler part about it all was becoming friends with these guys. I had a twenty-five minute set on stage, and every single time I played, they were there, side-stage, watchin’ me and cheerin’ me on. And when I’d walk off they’d give me a high-five. That also shows the same [kind of] character that Ashley has. It’s one of those things like, wow…never in a million years did I think Tracy Lawrence would be sharing his whiskey with me! [Laughs]. But it does make me feel like when I have the opportunity to stand side-stage for somebody and really help boost their confidence, then that’s what I’m gonna do. Because they [Tracy and Justin] will never understand how special those moments were for me.” 

That particular tour, of course, was cut short due to everything that’s been happening with Covid 19. But since Lainey has been off the road, she’s become a mama to a little fur-baby, a French bull-dog named Hippie! I asked Lainey how Hippie was getting on, and if, when everything gets back to normal, she’ll be getting back out there on the road with her? 


“Hippie is rotten! [Laughs]. Hippie is so rotten. That’s the word for her! But she’s so sweet, she’s my girl! And I’m hopin’ that if she can figure out this whole potty-training thing that she will be on the road with me! [Laughs].” 

When Lainey first went to meet her album producer, Jay Joyce, a gentleman who has also worked his magic with the likes of Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, and Brothers Osborne to name just a few, his two dogs were there to greet her that day. Just one of the stories I’d heard about Joyce was how he’d walk up to musicians literally while they were playing and slightly untune their guitars just to get a different sound. I asked Lainey to share a little bit about how her experience of working with the enigmatic producer had been…


“He really is a mad scientist! I knew, as soon as I went over there and hung out with him that first time, when he opened the door smokin’ a Marlboro Light in the middle of this sanctuary studio, I knew we were goin’ to be friends! He is just himself! And I feel like my best friends are the people who are unapologetically themselves. Those are the kind of people I gravitate towards. And we hit it off. It was one of those kind of kindred spirits moments. A lot of people told me, ‘Ya know, he’s scary! He wears a black trench-coat, lights his cigarette on a toaster!’ [Laughs]. I was like, oh gosh, I don’t know what to expect! [Laughs]. But truly, I just learned so much. I felt like I grew so much during that entire process. And I really did let Jay do his thing. It was just so cool seeing these songs come to life. He kinda like puts it all in a pot, puts a little fairy-dust on it, and voila!” 

Going back to Lainey’s songwriting and a link she has to a guy who has really been making a big name for himself amongst Irish country fans over these past few years, and that’s Luke Combs. Lainey was actually one of his first co-writers in Nashville, and Luke even cut a track they wrote, one called Sheriff You Want To. I asked her about her memories of those sessions with Luke…


“I knew from the get-go that Luke Combs has something special. I saw him play at Tin Roof Revival and he had not even moved to Nashville yet. But I knew that he had ‘it.’ At this point in time, I had absolutely nothin’ goin’ on. He had just started to get an underground following. We developed a friendship, and he would come over to my camper-trailer and we’d write songs. We were both really just learning how to write, and how to collaborate. And I’m a firm believer that two brains are better than one. I think it’s important to write by yourself every now and then, but it’s interesting to see all the different angles that come from two people being in a writing room. So like I said, we were just two kids in there tryin’ to figure it out. I’m so proud of how far he has come, and he truly is just also a great person. It’s so awesome to see him do so well.” 

In closing, I asked Lainey to share the best piece of advice she’s ever been given, or the biggest lesson that she’s ever learned when it comes to either songwriting or just life in the music business…


“The story that comes to my mind is this. I grew up riding horses. My daddy brought this horse home, and he was not ‘broke.’ Daddy was like, ‘Hey, Lainey, get on this horse.’ So I crawled up there, little Lainey! The horse started buckin’, and I was cryin’ to get down. I was like, ‘Let me off, let me off, I’m terrified.’ And he told me, hold on. And I held on. I’ve carried that with me into my adult life, and throughout this whole process. Because this really is a crazy ride! It’s got a lot of ups and downs, a lot of twists and turns. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s about. It’s about the ride. It’s about feelin’ it with your whole heart. And damn it, I’m holdin’ on! [Laughs].”

~ SAYIN’ WHAT I’M THINKIN’, the brand NEW album from LAINEY WILSON, is OUT NOW, available on all platforms. 

ENDS