When Lucy Hale brought her three-man band to Chicago to play some of her new country music for an intimate crowd, the T-shirt she was wearing kind of said it all. “The question isn’t who is going to let me. It’s who is going to stop me,” it said, quoting the Russian-born writer Ayn Rand.
And that’s exactly the kind of determination I saw in the country newcomer and heard in her songs. She only played six, but what started out as just a concert from a Pretty Little Liars actress ended up being a showcase from a brand new, very genuine country star.
Hale’s music had plenty of ganjo, fiddle, guitar and cajón, along with plenty of lyrics from some of Nashville’s best hitmakers. And plenty of background. She had something to say about each new tune.
“This one is about how you keep running into that person after a breakup, and then you’re like, ’Darn it. I’m still not over you,” Hale said of “Kiss Me.”
“I just turned 24, I made an album, I hosted an award show and I grew up a lot. I know I look super young, but I’m coming into my own,” she said in her introduction of “Road Between.”
“When I heard this one, I started crying and was thinking, ’Please let me be the person to sing this song,'” she said before performing “Nervous Girls.”
And when she played “From the Backseat,” Hale talked about how it was the perfect example of what she loves most about country music — the storytelling. The story in this one stood out to me because it’s one I’ve never heard before, and I thought I’d heard them all. It’s about being on a road trip with your mom and dad and how you learn how to love by watching them from the backseat.
With stories like that, Rand’s sentiment is right. No one’s going to stop Hale.