This record was inspired by her experiences growing up in the Midwest, and I think that’s pretty obvious in just the title alone:
“I wouldn’t be who or where I am today without the people and place that ‘Raised’ me. I hope when you hear this record it takes you home.”
After the success of her 2020 album, The Dream, she told the Tennessean she needed to slow down, take a break from Music City and return to her native Iowa. A place that, very clearly, means a lot to her:
“I was homesick and longing for home. I needed space to sit, think, and have the muse pop out of the sky and just hit me. I had to refill my well to inspire myself again.
Some may think that’s counterproductive, but there I was, spending more time with my friends and family, hearing gossip at my local bar back home, reading books, planting flowers, hiking east of Nashville, and living real life.
I couldn’t just sit in my room, stare at the wall, and hope a song would jump out from it.”
Of course, the feeling of home is incredibly evident throughout every single song on this album.
It’s refreshing to see her take a look back at the places, and people, that helped shape the person she’s become, and I’m telling you, this is already one of the best records of the entire year.
Everything about the project is so damn authentic, and it’s a nice change to hear an artist sing about how much they love where they’re from, as opposed to how much they hated the town and wanted to get out.
It also features co-writes by heavyweights like Jeff Hyde, Lori McKenna, Brandy Clark, Nicolle Galyon and plenty of others, in addition to Hailey being a writer on every song (other than the opening and closing instrumental “Ad Astra Per Alas Porci”).
I also have to give kudos to her for only putting out two songs before album release day. “Everything She Ain’t” and “The Neon”were both great tastes of what the whole record is, and they were just enough to make hearing the album in its entirety super exciting today.
One of my favorite’s on the extensive 17-song tracklist is her duet with BJ Barham of American Aquarium, “Middle Of America”.
I grew up in the south, but from the lyrics in this track and the passion with which my fellow North Carolinian, BJ, sings here, I have to imagine it’s pretty similar:
Hailey teased “Boys Back Home” several months back, and it’s easily one of my favorite’s on this record:
And while I could easily recommend every track on the album, “Plain Jane” is another fantastic one to start with if you want to get a grasp on Hailey and who she is… as suggested in the chorus, she’s “a little more messed up Mary than Plain Jane”:
If you haven’t gotten into Hailey’s music before, it’s time to change that. There’s something for everyone on this record, and that feeling of home written into every line is just so beautifully nostalgic and relatable to almost anyone.
While Hailey’s been making, and writing, fantastic albums for years now, this one is her best yet.
No matter where you’re from, I think we all need to go back home every once in a while. Hailey made it easy to return to the best parts of that place, wherever it may be, which is why the record is nothing short of phenomenal.
1. “Ad Astra Per Alas Porci” (Jordan Lehning, Pedro Palomino)