Kelsea Ballerini Talks About Why Vulnerability Is an Essential Part of Her Songwriting

by Blake Ells
(Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for ABA)

Kelsea Ballerini dropped her fourth album, SUBJECT TO CHANGE, on September 23. It’s her most personal collection of songs yet, as most of these songs were written while she was going through a divorce. But she says it isn’t a “divorce record,” rather an “audit record.” The record also has big 90s vibes, as a lot of country music does right now. She was clearly influenced by Shania Twain, as she paid tribute to the icon at the ACM Honors earlier this summer.

In a new interview with Music Row, she reveals that the sound wasn’t deliberate.

Faith Hill, Trisha Yearwood and Shania Twain are obvious references for this album, but it also was Sixpence None the Richer and Sheryl Crow,” she said. “But I didn’t necessarily set out to make a 90s-sounding record. It’s just naturally influence by what I was listening to.”

Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer has made a country crossover of her own, now under the “Americana” umbrella.

Allowing herself vulnerability in songwriting is a vital part of her success.

“It’s a dance,” she said. “I’m in a season of life right now where I’m re-figuring that out. I do feel a responsibility to not just show the glittery parts of my life and ‘job.’ That would be really easy to do, but it’s just not real; I feel responsibility as someone that people look to to be more authentic, even if it’s a little bit uncomfortable sometimes. I definitely don’t tend to do it right all the time and I’ve had a messy journey with social media, but I’m constantly doing my best. That’s where I’m at with everything in my life. I’m showing up the best I can.”

Kelsea Ballerini’s Albums Are Life Chapters

Kelsea Ballerini says that each record she has written has marked a specific point in her life.

“Every record of mine has bookmarked two years of my twenties,” she said. “This one is from 26 to 28. There’s a lot of growing up that happens in those years, but also, I sat still for the first time since I’ve been in my twenties.”

She’s actually released two full albums that haven’t been given a proper tour treatment. A lot has changed since she released kelsea just before the pandemic hit in 2020. And her current tour isn’t the tour she’ll eventually have to support the two albums. She said that she wanted to first play the dates that were canceled due to the pandemic because she felt like she owed that to the fans that held on to tickets for two years. She’s out West for a couple of dates, and it wraps in Connecticut on October 14. On October 21, she’ll meet up with Wynonna Judd in Durant, Okla. for The Judds ‘Final Tour.’ Check out all of Kelsea Ballerini’s tour dates and get ticket information for each at her website.