Road Between is the title of her new album. It's been available on the iTunes radio since May 27th and yeah, it's been what I've been listening to while at the computer ever since then. It's a country album with her Memphis soul coming through loud and clear. Personally, I tend to be very picky about the country music I listen to, but her album has won me over entirely. Every song is a winner. There's not a single one I'd want to skip. So far even the exclusive tracks to Target and Walmart sound extremely promising. I've only heard a snippet of the Walmart exclusive track "Come on" and from what I have heard it's as brilliant as the rest. I did manage to hear one of the two Target exclusive tracks. "Runaway Circus" is a metaphor masterpiece of her lyrical acrobatics in making music that's addictive and original. The other track from the Target exclusive album is called "Those Three Words" and I'm genuinely glad I've yet to hear it first hand. As it is, I've almost got all the lyrics to the rest of the songs memorized from how often they've been playing. So it'll be nice to still have at least one or two surprises left for when the album is in hand.
The first track on the album is "You Sound Good to Me". A catchy song and video. Immediately it made me take notice of her album outright. The video work is simple yet amazing because of this simplicity. It evokes what's in the song while also being warm and friendly. Like the song itself, it's reminiscent of good times with friends on a road trip alongside the adventure and new discoveries the open road can bring. It's simple, symbolic, and effective. There's no overdone fluff or over-complicated aspects to it. The simplicity works in its favor to create an ease of familiarity while also carrying depth about life and its tender moments that can sneak up on you from listening.
"From the Backseat" is the second track, and it starts diving into the metaphor usages that country music can be known for. The entirety of the song is about love, but through the eyes of a child sitting in the backseat watching her parents on a family trip. It's a heartwarming song that talks of no matter how you've lived your life or where you've been, you deserve to find real love that's only for you and no one else. That love means loyalty, patience, and kindness. As the second track on the album, it starts easing you into how much this album is poetry unto itself with the originality and metaphor decisions. How whoever wrote this track came up with the idea of approaching this symbolism is beyond me, but it starts to show the exact genius this album has in every song. This track in particular even manages to work in a Lois Lane and Superman reference within the lyrics themselves to a quite beautiful effect.
"Nervous Girls" is the third track on the album and it is amazing outright. The literary and media references scattered throughout but also the overall intent of the lyrics in saying no matter what walk of life you're from, we're not so different. That all face these same insecurities in their life. The song makes great usage of subtle allusions to various examples. It references Pretty Little Liars itself, albeit possibly accidentally, when it talks of Hannah and her skinny jeans being so damn afraid to eat. It makes a gentle literary allusion to Alice in Wonderland with the lyrics referencing Alice turning 30 and looking through that looking glass. So many more than that too. The song itself is brilliant all around while being uplifting and helping by talking about how girls aren't alone in these fears. It has one of the most beautiful lyrics I've ever heard with the phrase "beautifully strong, yet tragically confused."
"Red Dress" is up next, and it's become one of my favorites with the story it tells within the lyrics. How a small time with someone, how good memories created can stick with us and make us look back fondly on the time spent with them. How those memories can often be summed up in one sentence, but that sentence contains so much more meaning than anyone will ever know. Sure, you may reference it as "the girl in the red dress" but what you might really be thinking of is the time spent with them, not what they were wearing. That simple phrase can make you think of the warmth and kindness of that person. The innocent fun you had of simply talking and dancing whether it's at a wedding or some other venue. There's also another subtle aspect to the emotions it evokes. Missing someone that's grown to mean a lot to you. How you think of them when they're gone and wish they were near. How when you're thinking of them, you might close your eyes and pretend they're right there with you. Whether you're hugging a red pillow or with your head down on a desk wishing their hand was on your shoulder, you're still thinking of them and the impact they've made on you.
"Goodbye Gone" is what follows it. Oh geez, I don't even know what to say about this one. I've found myself belting it out while driving trying to stop myself before getting to the lyrics about boys, and then laughing when I goof and sing that too. The entire song itself is a fun empowering anthem that uplifts and is written in a way that it feels as if it carries a dual layered meaning. On one side you have the entire empowering angle of being free from a bad relationship and moving on your own way that's right for you. From another perspective, you have subtle hues of someone being saved from what may have been a toxic relationship that they refused to see for what it was. The metaphor usage and story told plays on a duality that works wonders for it. It strikes that balance of metaphor and story conveyance that sometimes can only be found in country music. It allows Ms. Hale to truly let her voice stand on its own. There's no doubt her vocal range is capable of amazing feats.
"Kiss Me" is one of those songs you can't help but smile from. It's littered with hope. Those times a relationship may have ended for whatever reason that kept you on good terms, but the story really hasn't ended. That the spark is still there. That you both feel it and think of the other fondly and healthily missing each other. There's subtle allusions of what it can be like with small town love, in any city really, where driving by their home may be on your own way back home. It's an innocent song of simpler times. It walks a fine line of evoking these emotions but not treading on the "bad love" connotations. That this is a mutual feeling which is what makes it okay. It's balanced and well handled conveying the right symbolism and emotions from within.
"Road Between" is the seventh track. Ms. Hale in many interviews has called this one of her personal themes stating that it perfectly captured feelings she was going through. While I cannot speak about whatever those feelings may be, this song is highly universal. It hits home with me personally in a way I cannot even begin to describe. It's a song of learning and growth. A song about the highway of life.
"Lie a Little Better" is a fun song. It sings of the effects of what love can do to a person. How it can make us fall apart, but also how we try to hold ourselves together and hide those feelings and act cool. Yet the truth keeps slipping out anyway. We've fallen so far into it, that it's impossible to hide that feeling. When you love someone, it just shows. It's upbeat and really brings a smile. It's one of my personal favorites on the album with all that it sings about and conveys.
"That's What I Call Crazy" is after that. It's such a visually fun song with what it describes, you can't help but smile and laugh with the imagery created. I don't even know how to describe this one, it's got that perfect flair all around and evokes so much that's easy to relate to and understand. It's another one of my favorites from the album outright. It's a song you can close your eyes and outright see someone painting their toenails while a small fire rages in the bathtub. A fire that they then try to put out with the the person's t-shirt of the pictures they're burning. It's catchy and fun while dealing with one of the harsher emotions of betrayal that can happen in relationships. Though honestly, every track is my favorite. It's all perfect and universal in ways that are indescribable.
"Love Tonight" has to be one of the most perfect love songs I've ever heard, and I'm not a fan of love songs. This one though, it's upbeat and melodic. It has that visual descriptive nature while also conveying about being swept up in the moment and not looking back because it's still what you want.
"Just Another Song" is a song that Lucy Hale wrote, and it's poignant piece that speaks of how music brings back memories and emotions. How a day can start off perfect but with one simple song the mood of an entire day can change. It's a powerful song with this universal truth it sings of. It's beautiful, sad, but powerful and shows the strength of her voice to convey these emotions with a melody unto itself. The song writing skills she exercises yields magnificent results. It suggests untapped potential that we'll be seeing in future albums from her. If this is any indication of her depth, count me excited for any and all music she comes up with.
"My Little Black Wedding Dress" is next and it's definitely interesting. It's a subtle song about dreams of marriage, but it leaves much to wonder about in its wake. A wedding of happiness, but also sadness with wishing the dress were white instead. A wedding that while it's remembered fondly as happiness and everything blissful about the occasion, it also has something tainted about it. There's a somberness to the metaphor conveyance. The lyrics convey looking back reminiscing joyfully but yet still wishes it could have happened differently. It carries a soft organ melody at the beginning reminiscent of wedding music but also an element of other procession music to a degree. It makes them original by how the song implements the usage and combination throughout where needed. It's an interesting blend that really makes it work for the song to give you pause for a moment and consider what it's about. They carry the metaphor, but also let her voice carry the emotion of the song beautifully. It has a universal tinge to it that possibly sings of "shotgun wedding" or whatever the reasons are that could have sped up a wedding you wanted anyway, but not like the way it happened.
"Feels Like Home" is another one of my favorites. Ms. Hale being from Memphis tends to strike a cord with me because where I'm from in the mid-west isn't far from there. Barely a 5 hour drive really. So the lyrics of red clay under the feet, and the Mississippi river, well, it feels like home to me. The song itself is about growing up and no matter where you may roam, those childhood memories of the rivers nearby and the type of dirt under your feet will always feel like home.
"Loved" is one of those tracks that everyone needs to hear. It talks of what real love is. It's not about the gifts, or the money spent, it's about listening and the small gestures. How you're there for them when they need it. The full attention given that makes a person feel like they're the only person you're talking to, the compliments that are uniquely them from how you know them. Avoiding saying certain words because you know they are words they don't want to hear. How you may even start to pick up small phrases and vernacular from them because you listen. It's a beautiful subtle song that sings of all that's beautiful when you truly show your affection for someone and not even from trying too hard. It's the simple things and affection that shows up naturally that can't be faked.
Two acoustic tracks are also accompanied on the album. Typically I'm not a fan of acoustic tracks. I tend to view them as filler fluff that's repeating a song I'd already heard on the album. I was wrong in her case. Oh wow was I wrong. These two acoustic tracks truly show how powerful and skilled her voice is. They outdo the normal track versions, and show you exactly why she deserves a US and world tour for this album. Not only do they directly let you hear that this entire album was not modified to make her voice better than it is, they start to show you that this is only the beginning of what her voice is capable of. That she's yet to truly show her full potential as a singer. They're the ranch dressing on what's already probably the best salad you'll ever have. As a person who typically avoids rabbit food, me praising salad feels wrong outright. With one as well prepared as this, it could be the only meal I'd ever want for the rest of my life and I'd be more than satisfied with that. In other words, it's a salad of steak if you prefer your food metaphors with some meat. Simply put, it's the best most well prepared auditory meal that's ever existed. It'll give you happy ears.
As her first debut into an adult music career, this is an unparalleled first step. It boggles my mind on where she'll take her music next with an outing as groundbreaking as this is. Though from how groundbreaking and addictive these tracks are, I have no doubt in my mind that all her future forays in the music world will be just as enthralling and captivating.
You can pre-order her album on Amazon, iTunes, Walmart, Target, and many more outlets now. It'll be in brick and mortar stores tomorrow while the digital will be available as of midnight tonight.