“I just wanted to give people kind of an update on where I am right now and give them something to hold on to until we get the full album done,” Lauren Alaina tells Apple Music of this six-song EP. Though she was thrust into the spotlight as a teenage American Idol contestant in 2011 and rushed her debut full-length out on the heels of that exposure, it took a while for the big-voiced country-pop singer to start making music that she felt reflected her small-town-to-showbiz experience and exuberant personality as a performer. She organized the setlist of her recent headlining tour around her story, putting songs from her albums next to songs she didn’t anticipate releasing soon. “Before we did that tour, we had no intention of putting an EP out,” she explains, “but the people responded to the music so well. People literally recorded songs from live shows and learned the lyrics. I think it kind of rewired my brain a little bit: ‘Hey, let’s get music in these people’s hands as much as we can.’” Here Alaina walks through each track.
In My Veins “I would say the last eight, nine years of my life have been professionally and personally very challenging in a lot of ways. Obviously that's just how life works. But there have been some things happen that kind of stopped me in my tracks along the way. And it seemed like every time something really bad happened, I ran back home. I would go back to that small-town girl. I haven't lived in Rossville [Georgia] since I was 18 years old—I moved away immediately to Nashville when I turned 18—but no matter where I go, it's like I'll never leave Rossville. I kind of always find myself back home when I need support and love, and I wanted to write a song that represented my hometown. My family says that I've lost my accent, which everyone else in the whole wide world thinks is hysterical, because everywhere I go people say, ‘Where are you from? Your accent is so strong.’ But if I talk to my mom on the phone or my dad, or if I go back home for even five minutes, my accent is full force. And it felt like a pretty good way to start off the new chapter.”
Getting Good “I typically don't connect with something as much as something that I've personally written. Emily Weisband wrote this song by herself, and I actually wrote six songs on the last album with Emily. She and I just work really well together and we're the same age and we're kind of going through a lot of the same things. I think we're all moving so fast that we need to kind of take a step back sometimes and count our blessings. And if there is something that I've learned over the last few years with so many crazy things happening, it is we're not promised tomorrow and we never know what's going to happen. The demo was just an a cappella version. We had a lot of conversations about how to do it, but I always wanted it to be very stripped-down in the beginning. I didn't want it to be overproduced. You know, some songs catch you because of the production, some songs catch you because of the lyrics, some songs catch you because of the melody. And I really think the melody and the lyric in the song tell a story by themselves, and I didn't want to distract from that.”
Somebody Else’s Problem “If you ever hang out with me, you would find out very quickly that the tone of ‘Somebody Else's Problem’ is my personality: sassy, sarcastic, kind of cheeky, playful, but also direct. And this is a breakup song that's kind of saying, ‘Hey, good luck, buddy. It's time to put this down and move on.’ I went through two pretty gnarly breakups, pretty crazy and public breakups, in the last few years. So I'm going to have a lot of the breakup songs.”
Ladies in the '90s “Overall, I try to be a really positive person and always think the best about everything. I get asked nonstop about the lack of female presence on the radio. I understand why someone would want to ask it, but as a female trying to be an artist and get my music heard, I was like, ‘I don't know why, because I know that it works when women are heard on the radio, because it's the whole reason I'm trying to do it.’ I grew up in a time where women owned the radio. I have 12 examples in ‘Ladies in the '90s’ of women who not only were all on the radio, but those songs are lifetime songs. ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman!’ will never die. I just wanted to say, ‘Hey, remember the ’90s when all of these songs changed the trajectory of my life and so many young women who needed to hear them? Songs that not only were sung by women but were sung about being proud to be women, and they were impactful and encouraging and empowering?’ Almost all of the songs that I write and release in some way have a tone of empowerment, an underlying theme of empowerment, even the breakup songs. There are young girls out there listening to my music, and I would want to be a leader for them in the way that Shania or Whitney or Destiny's Child were for me.”
Country in Me “‘Country in Me’ is a love song about someone helping you get in touch with where you came from. It’s about new love and someone who really just reminds you of where you came from, and the melodies are so fresh and different and cool. There are moments that feel very country and moments that feel progressive, and I think that's kind of what I am. I am a country girl through and through, but I've been influenced by all sorts of music and genres.”
The Other Side “Everything that I say in ‘The Other Side,’ my stepdad said the day he died. He died from cancer. I've done a lot of charity work and stuff for St. Jude in cancer research and for the American Cancer Society, but I never fully understood what a family goes through until Sam. When we first found out, all we did was pray, pray, pray that he would be healed and that the doctors would find a treatment that would work. And obviously that didn't happen. A few weeks before he passed, I was just so angry and so frustrated and sad. And I remember saying to God, ‘If he dies, I'll never talk to you again,’ like that was going to do something. And then the day that he died changed my life. He hadn't spoken in a while and he had been in so much pain and he was home on hospice and in the living room. But he just opened up his eyes and looked up at the ceiling and said, 'I found it.' And my mom said, 'You found what?' He said, 'Heaven, and I wish you could see it. It's so beautiful.' And then he said he saw his mom and he saw Jesus and all of these things. I never really thought I'd write about it, because it was so impactful. It was unlike anything I've ever experienced. But there's something about being in a writing room that brings the emotions out of you. I was with Jon Nite and Zach Kale—I told them the story, and how I just couldn't believe that he was gone, and how he had told our family to go live the best lives that we could so we could tell him about them someday. I was literally just saying these words and then Jon goes, ‘Well, Lauren, that's what we're going to have to write about.’”
In My Veins
Somebody Else's Problem
Ladies In The '90s
Country In Me
The Other Side
6 SONGS, 20 MINUTES
MARCH 6, 2020
A 19/MERCURY NASHVILLE RELEASE; ℗ 2020 19 RECORDINGS, INC., UNDER EXCLUSIVE LICENSE TO UMG RECORDINGS, INC.