by Craig Shelburne
For fans of traditional country and reflective songwriting, Brit Taylor’s new debut album Real Me is hard to beat.
After a rough patch in 2017 that involved the end of a marriage, losing her home, and concluding a publishing deal, the Eastern Kentucky clawed herself out of a state of depression to seek some new musical collaborators. The decision paid off, as Dave Brainard (who produced Brandy Clark’s 2013 breakout album 12 Stories) came on board, while Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) helped her tap into her true country style as a songwriter.
“Brit is a country girl,” says Auerbach, who co-wrote multiple songs on Real Me with her. “That’s how she described herself to me within the first five minutes of meeting her. When she came to the studio and we first sat down to write, she told me stories about growing up in Kentucky and the music that surrounded her there. We definitely tried to tap into that place while we were writing. Brit is extremely talented and I’m excited to see what she has in store for us.”
Brit Taylor caught up with CMT.com by phone from her Nashville-area farm.
Real Me feels like a perfect title for this record. What was on your mind when you wrote that song?
Authenticity. I was still in the process of figuring out who that was, when I wrote that song. That was the start of not only figuring out who I was, but accepting who I was.
What was the turning point to getting on the trajectory you’re on now? When did things start looking up for you again?
Probably when I called Dave Brainard — and he didn’t answer. I was like, “Well, crap. Nobody’s going to want to work with me, now that I’m out of a deal.” And he called me back within five minutes, so I couldn’t go too deep into all the negative thoughts. He scheduled a string of co-writes, and that was the moment. I met Dan Auerbach around that time, too, and it was a lot of universal God confirmations of, “You’re OK, it’s going to be OK. You’re still on the right track. I’ve got ya.”
What was it about the video treatment for “Broken Hearts Break” that you liked?
It’s super quirky. (laughs) Old country songs are so sad and mournful that they’re almost hilarious. They’re so pitiful, they’re almost funny. Like those old Buck Owens songs. But I wanted to bring out some of that humor in the midst of this really sad song.
What was on your mind when you wrote “Waking Up Ain’t Easy”?
I was going through a divorce in 2017 and honestly I’d had a pretty perfect life. I never went through anything painful or stressful. I just floated through life with ease until 2017, and it was one hellacious year. It was one thing after another. It was my first experience with depression, and not wanting to wake up.
I’m a morning person. I love mornings, getting up and sitting out on the front porch and drinking coffee. And for the first time in my life, I would be smiling and happy and then I would remember all the crap I was going through, and I would hit my pillow. I grabbed my phone in November 2017 and wrote “Waking Up Ain’t Easy.” I didn’t know what it meant. I didn’t know if it was a song. I just wrote it down, and six months later, Dave Brainard and I were writing out here at my house. I was scrolling through my phone, looking for ideas, and that one just really hit me.
What was it like to experience that pain again? I guess you have to go back and tap into those same emotions when you’re writing, right?
Yeah, but it was much easier because I felt like I was on the other side of it at that point. I remembered it, and honestly I wish I could have jumped back in the past, like time-hopped and held myself, like, “You’re going to be OK. You’re going to get through this.” That’s probably why it took me so long to write it, because it was so painful at the time.
What do you hope people will hear when they discover your new record?
I hope they can insert their own stories into it. I tried to keep the lyrics less specific about the storytelling details, and more open-ended, where it was more emotional. I hope people can find some comfort when they hear it.