Kelsea Ballerini and Her New Groove

On Being Stuck in Between

Sometimes, I judge a song by its title. Other times, it takes a line or two for me to realize if I will love or hate a song. And that’s how I feel about Kelsea Ballerini’s “In Between.” It’s one of the first cuts I fell for off her new album Unapologetically.

Because, lyrics.

I’m dumb enough to think I know it all/Smart enough to know I don’t/Young enough to think I’ll live forever/Old enough to know I won’t.

Who I was and who I’m gonna be.

Sometimes I’m my mother’s daughter/Sometimes I’m her friend.

Ballerini recently told Billboard Country Update about how her own experiences of being stuck in the middle inspired the song.

“When I’m in ’person’ mode, and I’m at home or with my friends or with my mom, I’m a kid. I let myself call my mom and ask her to make me soup, you know? But when I’m in work mode, and when I’m trying to be the artist that I want to be — and that this album deserves for me to be — I think that’s when I try to be an adult,” Ballerini said. The song goes down the same path that Britney Spears was on when she released “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” in 2002, when she was about Ballerini’s age.

This song is relatable not just for Ballerini’s 24-year-old peers, who are in that same pre-adulting limbo, but for everyone who has ever been in between two chapters and has had to kind of own that.

Making this entire album taught Ballerini what kind of voice she has, and doesn’t have.

“It sounds silly, but on my first record, all I knew was how to sing with my acoustic guitar. My favorite artists are the ones that can belt and sing the high notes and all that stuff, and that has always been the kind of singer that I wanted to be. But over the last three years, I’ve learned that I can’t sing like Kelly Clarkson,” she admitted.”It’s not how my voice works, so I think (the biggest difference on this album is) learning what I can and can’t do.”

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