Lucy Hale’s 10 Pretty Little Truths

She may play a semi-scandalous secret keeper on Pretty Little Liars, but the real Lucy Hale is another story. She’s refreshingly candid, honest and so genuinely country. I had the chance to catch up with her in Chicago on Thursday (Sept. 5) when she was making the rounds to show off her brand new country songs and what will likely be the debut single, “You Sound Good to Me.” So I asked her to tell me the God’s honest truth about 10 random topics.

1. Hale is drawn to Martina McBride‘s musical approach in choosing songs. “I was born and bred on country,” she said. “And this is really a country record. But I’m definitely more Martina McBride. That’s the stuff people want to hear. Real-life issues. Not just bubblegum, la-di-da, life-is-great songs. There’s room for that, but there’s room for songs like [Hale's] ‘Nervous Girls,’ too, which is an inside look at the kind of person I really am. People might look at me on TV and be like, ‘This is a girl who lives in Hollywood and kind of has it together.’ But it’s like, ‘No, I go through stuff, too.’ That song is a perfect snapshot of what I’ve been through so far. I have the same issues every girl has.”

2. When it comes to love and lies, Hale is not at all like her character Aria on Pretty Little Liars. “If I knew the truth about Ezra, I’d probably stay with him,” she said. “I tend to keep going back to guys who are wrong for me. I’d be upset for a while, but the heart wants what the heart wants.”

3. The show has been Hale’s job for the last four years. So how has she been able to make songs that girls her age will relate to? “I was homeschooled for high school,” she said. “But I feel so lucky in the sense that I never felt sheltered. I have an older sister. I had normal life experiences. I went to prom. I was very social. I had boyfriends. I never sat in a classroom from 7 to 3, but I did everything else. So I draw from all that.”

4. The girls who play Spencer, Hannah and Emily on the TV series haven’t heard Hale’s music yet. She said she plays some country music when she and her co-stars are in the makeup trailer but just not her country music. Yet. “It’s so special, and I know that some of them won’t appreciate country music,” she said. “But now that the music is on the Internet, I will play it for them. I will. They’re really supportive.”

5. Maybe because she’s used to being on set so much, Hale has a few secrets about staying healthy while she’s away from home. “I drink lots of water,” she said. “And Throat Coat tea. And I have this Chinese throat syrup that’s super nasty. It tastes like Robitussin, but Jason Mraz told my record label people that that’s what gets him through.”

6. As for the best country song ever, she said, “For me it’s ‘Jesus, Take the Wheel.’ I wrote with Brett James for my album, and I knew that he’d written that one when I was going in to write, so I knew I was in the presence of greatness. I was like ‘I’m … not … worthy.’ That song is really just so special.”

7. How about this for a song idea? Do a country cover of the Pierces’ “Secret,” the theme song from Pretty Little Liars. “I would be open to that, she said. “That could be cool. But I’m a little timid because that show has opened so many doors for me but, on other hand, I think maybe I should keep them separate.”

8. Since she wrote and recorded most of her record — due out in early 2014–in Nashville, Hale found a few cool spots where she enjoyed hanging, such as Loser’s, the Hutton Hotel, Pancake Pantry and the Gulch neighborhood. “There’s that store Two Old Hippies,” she said. “You can’t go in there and not find something you want.”

9. Hale has only talked with Taylor Swift via social media but says she’s been really sweet. “I know she’s a fan of Pretty Little Liars and, hopefully, of me. And I think she has it goin’ on. She has completely taken on a whole new role even in past year when she ventured into the pop world.”

10. Had Hale not been cast in Liars, she might not be on the verge of a country career now at age 24. “It’s always been what I want to do,” she said. “If it had been up to me, I would’ve started with music. But everyone has a different path, and timing is everything and the show happened for a reason. When I’m acting, that’s not Lucy. But when I’m up onstage singing, that’s the most vulnerable I’ll ever be in my life. That’s scary. But the acting let me let loose a little.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.