by Jessica Nicholson
Gainesville native Alex Hall has been playing music—most prominently, guitar—since he was a teenager, playing classic hits from Johnny Cash, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. After relocating to Nashville, he worked at refining his songwriting craft, before releasing his debut EP, Six Strings, last year. Judging by the project’s star-studded guest list, it’s safe to say Hall knows good music when he hears it, as the EP is filled with collaborations with Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Vince Gill, and more.
One of the highlights on the EP is his collaboration with reigning ACM New Female Artist of the Year Tenille Townes, as the pair co-wrote and performed the stirring track, “Heart Shut.” A newly-released video for the song captures a lively, intimate performance between the who musicians.
Given the dearth of live performances over the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic, this video from the two singer-songwriters and guitar slingers is a refreshing reminder of the joy that comes with simply sharing the experience of performing music.
Townes and Hall first met at a songwriters festival in Key West and quickly realized they wanted to write together.
“The day we wrote the song, we had so much fun working around the title ‘Heart Shut’,” Townes told cmt.com. “Our goal was to stay inside the moment from two different perspectives of running into the person you’re still not over, and not knowing what to do with all those feelings.”
Hall and Townes co-wrote the track alongside Hall’s co-producers Pete Good and AJ Babcock.
“I knew I wanted to write a duet so I had an excuse to sing with her, too.” Hall said. “Pete, AJ, and I had the idea for ‘Heart Shut’ and Tenille loved it. We wanted it to feel like the classic duets we all love and don’t hear quite as often anymore,” Hall said.
Townes added, “In the first verse, Alex says “You look happy now” twice and that line stands out to me as wrapping up all the little details you’re observing to make a story in your mind that the person you see must be happier without you. I think that part hurts the most when you see someone you care happy about without you. “
The two filmed the video in an appropriately socially-distanced manner, opting to film at Good’s studio in Nashville—the same studio Hall used to record the entire Six Strings EP. The video centers on Hall and Townes in a studio, singing and playing directly to each other, with the sparse clip allowing each artist’s musical talents to shine.
“My favorite part of recording the video for this song was getting to perform it live! Alex is one of my favourite singers and guitar players, and getting to sing this song live together is so much fun,” Townes said.
“It was a challenge filming it during the pandemic, but Tenille and I are such good friends, so we felt comfortable around each other. Just being able to sing in the same room together was amazing. One of my favorite moments was in between setting up, Tenille and I were just sitting there and starting messing around singing some of our favorite duets, like ‘Islands In The Stream’ by Kenny [Rogers] and Dolly [Parton] or ‘It’s Your Love’ by Tim [McGraw] and Faith [Hill]. Later on we ended up recording some of them for fun on TikTok.”