Beginning in 2014, Kelsea Ballerini exploded onto country radio with three consecutive No. 1 hits–“Love Me Like You Mean It,” “Dibs,” and “Peter Pan”–and in the process, became known for a string of irresistible, flirtatious pop-inflected songs.
As she moved into her second album, 2017’s Unapologetically, the singer-songwriter began delving deeper, adding topics on the importance of personal independence and self-esteem, as well as music that spoke frankly of the low times that often come with relationships, as Ballerini recently told CMT Radio’s Cody Alan.
“I think, you know, my first record and even ’Legends’ and ’Love Songs,’ they were such fun, flirty, romanticized stories,” she said. “I think ’Miss Me More’ was the first song where I was really talking about the more mature side of a relationship.
“I was really talking more about not the fun, happy side of a relationship, but the ’This was difficult to get through’ side, where I had to really fight to find myself again after this relationship. Seeing that song be my biggest song, and how well it was received–especially with young girls–made me think, ’I need to go down that route more,'” Ballerini added. “I need to dig into myself more and not be scared to put that side of me out, pared with the fun live songs too.”
Ballerini has made good on that realization, with songs that address insecurity and anxiety (“homecoming queen?”), holding onto small town roots (her Kenny Chesney collaboration “Half of My Hometown”), and the impact of the dissolution of a relationship (her LANY collaboration “I Quit Drinking”).