By Annie Reuter
Kelsea Ballerini has come a long way since her 2015 debut The First Time. With three consecutive No. 1 songs to her name, the singer boldly introduced herself to the country genre and now with her new release, Unapologetically, she continues her reign. This time, though, she is even more vulnerable.
Ballerini worked with A-list songwriters for the project, co-writing over 200 songs with Ross Copperman, Shane McAnally, Ashley Gorley and Hillary Lindsey. She narrowed those down to 12 for what would become a chronological storyline of her life throughout the past several years.
“I had to let myself be OK with being vulnerable,” Ballerini says. “My first album, I wanted it to be an introduction, just reaching out my hand. I had a song about my parent’s divorce, about being insecure – it was one song per emotion. In doing that, I wasn’t really able to articulate the depth of those emotions. Now, having gotten older, having gone through a big breakup and having fallen in love in a massive way, I had to say, ‘hey, let yourself feel that, let yourself write that.’ The end product was this record, which is a chronological story of my life these past few years.”
Songs like opening track “Graveyard” and “Miss Me More” touch upon her breakup while “In Between” shares some of the singer’s insecurities as she sings of the struggle of, “sometimes I play grown-up, and sometimes I play pretend.”
“Perfect doesn’t exist, and I’m exhausting myself trying to be something that isn’t real,” she says. “And I know if I am feeling that, then ninety percent of the other girls that listen to my songs are feeling that too.”
Songs like “High School,” which Ballerini’s penned by herself, and “End of the World,” also showcase these conflicting feelings. Meanwhile, on current single “Legends” the singer looks at loss, life and love.
“It just depends on the perspective you listen to it from on how you hear it,” she admits. “I wrote it two years ago when I was going through a breakup. But now, it’s a love song. It’s about a love you are reflecting on. About loss, life and love.”
Ballerini poured her life story into Unapologetically and it shows. While it may have been difficult to be so vulnerable at first, ultimately it’s what makes the album so strong.
“You have to use your intuition and your heart, and do things your own way,” she says. “That’s what I hope my next chapter really is. I’ve just wanted every song, even the vulnerable ones, to make you feel empowered. There is so much strength in being vulnerable.”
Unapologetically is out on this Friday, Nov. 3.