Alana Springsteen – TWENTY SOMETHING

Columbia Records

Release Date: August 18th 2023

Reviewed by: Joshua Andre

Alana Springsteen– TWENTY SOMETHING (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. You Don’t Deserve A Country Song
  2. If You Love Me Now
  3. Caught Up To Me
  4. Goodbye Looks Good On You (feat. Mitchell Tenpenny)
  5. Tennessee Is Mine
  6. Shoulder To Cry On
  7. Twenty Something
  8. Chameleon
  9. Here’s To All My Exes
  10. Hypocrite
  11. When We Were Friends
  12. Ghost In My Guitar (feat. Chris Stapleton)
  13. Taylor Did
  14. Different Kinda Country
  15. Cowboys And Tequila
  16. Thinkin’ Straight
  17. Look I Like
  18. Amen

Ever since 2019 and our ever-on-going blog series (which we’re still in the middle of- I assure you, despite our lengthy 1 year absence so far!), I’ve been branching out and listening to music that I wouldn’t normally in the past. And I’ve found that ‘mainstream’ music, which was marketed to me as ‘bad’ and ‘evil’, actually isn’t. These people who are singing songs for the mainstream media, are just people, and ordinary people like you and me. They’re going through life, writing honest music from the heart, from their perspective and their point of view. What other thing is there for these ordinary people to do, than write and sing honestly? Anyway, I’ve since determined that country music is the genre (apart from CCM), which I have been most hard-hit by in a good away, and I’ve found that I’ve resonated greatly with artists like Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Martina McBride, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Thomas Rhett, Shania Twain, Lindsay Ell, Kelsea Ballerini, Miranda Lambert, Runaway June, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, Lady A, Tenille Townes, Tenille Arts, Maddie & Tae, Mickey Guyton, Walker Hayes, Carly Pearce, Lauren Alaina, Gabby Barrett and even Taylor Swift. Even though I’m not American, it is these artists above (and plenty, plenty more!), who have helped place this genre in a special place in my heart. And as we’ve reviewed country albums over the years and seem God move in ways beyond imagination and comprehension with these artists, and as we’ve seen God be praised and given the glory in the marketplace; here we are in 2023 with another ‘new-ish’ artist and her heartfelt, honest, inspiring, vulnerable, and poignant music. Alana Springsteen (no relation to Bruce! Go figure… do we really believe they’re not related somehow? Is Bruce a long-lost uncle or something like that?), has released her brand-new debut full length album, titled TWENTY SOMETHING just a little over a month ago. And boy, let me tell you, Alana’s release in super deep and meaningful, and inspiring to the max as well.

For me, at the end of the day, the dreams that I inspire in other people are everything to me. That’s why I got into music and when I think about nine-year-old me and the artists that I looked up to, it was like Taylor Swift. Watching those people tell their stories and write songs, that gave me the confidence to know that I could do it too. So anytime I’m releasing music or playing a show, I’m thinking about who out there needs to hear this and the possibility that I could be the reason somebody decides to chase their dream or feels a little bit less alone because I’m sharing my truth.

Writing that song [the album closer ‘Amen’] was so healing for me and it actually started a conversation with my mom that I don’t know that I would’ve been able to have if it wasn’t for that song. Songwriting is how I’ve always communicated. I can say things in my music that I can’t say to my family, my best friends, it’s just a whole different level of honesty for me. I think in your twenties, you always feel this pressure to make everybody happy and people please, but at the same time, you feel the need to chase your own dreams and live on your own terms. And that’s a constant battle within myself. I’ll never forget playing this song for my mom for the first time. We were both in tears and she was like, ‘I never wanna put that pressure on you. I’m so proud of you.’ We just had the best conversation and I felt like having that little voice memo in there kind of hinted at that.

It’s hard for a name to be the only thing people see when they judge you. But Alana faces this every day, yet in this release (and I’m sure with other releases!), she lets the music do the talking. Usually with country albums and songs, we are treated with a slew of vulnerable and thought-provoking tracks, and it’s no different with Alana’s music. But the fact that Alana has done this- been this vulnerable, honest and emotional with her debut album no less, makes this project all the more impacting and relevant to today’s generation. Opening track “You Don’t Deserve A Country Song” is a stick-em-up, no-holds-barred melody directed to her ex, with Alana reiterating that he doesn’t deserve a country song written about him when he doesn’t hold a place in her heart at the moment. Usually in country songs, there’s a trope around that there’s a song written about an ex where the persona is yearning for their previous relationship and that they’re still not over their ex. But in this song, Alana reminds us that some relationships just end and there is no yearning and there is no ‘getting over’ the other person. Sometimes people drift apart, and there’s no reason to sing a song about a person, simply because you don’t love them anymore. it’s a catchy, powerful melody, and Alana’s vocals are impressive and extremely captivating. Following on from the highly radio-friendly EP opener, is the emotional and heartbreaking “If You Love Me Now”; and as Alana sings from the point of view of someone unwilling to commit to any relationship for whatever reason, we are presented with an honest portrayal of sadness and melancholy, as the song is about someone warning their significant other that they ultimately can’t give them want in the long run.

The rest of the album speaks about a myriad of issues, as Alana navigates her way through her 20’s and through life while ‘messing it up’, ‘figuring it out’ and ‘getting it right’ along the way, as evidenced by the previous 3 EP titles. “Caught Up To Me” is a ballad highlighting mental health and the feelings when you’ve finally acknowledged that the end of a relationship was partially your own fault because of reasons and situations that may have been in your control; while “Goodbye Looks Good On You”, sung with Mitchell Tenpenny, is a stirring and moving melody where Alana champions amicable breakups over messy breakups. “Tennessee Is Mine”, a hard-hitting ballad, speaks about the persona entering into a relationship and telling the other person that a certain state of America means something to them and that they are at home in that state, and that the other person should play by their rules while in that state (or maybe it’s an allegory for treating women right in general?); while the pop/country radio friendly melody “Shoulder To Cry On”, is where Alana outlines that she needs a shoulder to cry on when finding out that her ex has moved on with someone else.

The essence of this entire album is finding out who you are in your twenties, and the title track beautifully encapsulates the heartbeat of the project, and the themes Alana is trying to convey. Alana highlights in this powerful melody that life in your twenties is for living, and as Alana cries out that ‘…we drink a little bit too much, and we fall in and out of love, and everybody says we’re legal, but we know that we can’t be trusted, the candles on the cake say we’re growing up, we’re staying out late, and we’re throwing up, we know it all and don’t know nothing at twenty something…’, we are reminded that sometimes we act like we know more about life than we actually do, but that’s fine and that’s part of growing up. Alana stresses the importance of having fun along the way and along the road to growing up; and this song beautifully reminds us that no matter what stage of life we’re in, we can find joy and laughter and celebration in the process of becoming who we are meant to be. The piano ballad “Chameleon” describes Alana’s struggle with people pleasing and always trying to be whatever other people want her to be: ‘…if you’re blue, I’m blue, if you’re red, I’m hot, if you’re green, I’m green, tell me what you want, whatever you need, I can be it, whatever you’re feelin’, chameleon…’– while also letting all of us know that each one of us wants to be liked and accepted on some level, even if it is for a version of us that doesn’t exist; while the moving “Here’s To All My Exes” is a homage and tribute to all of Alana’s exes, honouring them and thanking them for getting her to where she is right now where she can be right now in a stable and happy relationship with someone. The country rocker “Hypocrite” has Alana outlining the fact that all of us are hypocrites in our own way when it comes to many aspects of our lives- and that’s more than ok because that’s just living life; while the heartbreaking and emotional piano led melody “When We Were Friends” speaks about the breakdown of a friendship between Alana and someone from her past, and the lamenting of the fact that the friendship is no more- with Alana also looking beck fondly on the good moments, and having a hopeful outlook for the future in terms of that relationship.

“Ghost In My Guitar” is not a traditional duet- it’s instead between Alana and Chris Stapleton’s guitar: Instead of making this a traditional duet between me and another person, it’s a duet between me and this guitar that’s representing the ghost of my ex. And we rooted it around this guitar riff that continues throughout the song. So once we decided it was gonna be on the record, my wheels were spinning on who was gonna play the song because it had to be such a specific tone and it had to evoke a lot of emotion, like as much emotion as a vocal would. I think most people are usually coming to him [Chris Stapleton] for vocals because obviously, the best vocalist, but I think people forget that he’s also equally as incredible of a musician. So we got the song to him and I get a call one morning, my phone is like blowing up from my entire team and they’re like, ‘Alana, Chris is going into the studio today to cut guitars on this song. He loves it. He believes in it. He wants to be a part of it’. Chris called me later that day and he was like, ‘how do you want me to approach it?’ And I was like, ‘dude, approach it the way you would a vocal. Just put that much emotion into it, put that much personality into it.’ And he freaking slayed, obviously. Listening to those guitar tracks, the first time he sent him back was an out-of-body experience. I mean, he brought the song to life and I’m just so grateful that he took a chance on it, took a chance on me and believed enough in that song and in me as an artist to be a part of the song. “Taylor Did”, probably Alana’s most personal song on the album, speaks about the importance of Taylor Swift in Alana’s life, and that Taylor’s songs helped Alana through many life changing events, and helped her grow up and navigate the world back when she was growing up; while “Different Kinda Country” powerfully reiterates the notion that there are many different styles of country music and that they’re all considered to be true and valid according to Alana- because the type of country music your gravitate to, is dependent on where we were raised and how you were raised.

“Cowboys And Tequila”, probably the most ‘country’ song on the album, speaks about how Alana doesn’t chase the boys that act all super ‘macho’ simply because they don’t really interest her; while the party pop song “Thinkin’ Straight” is essentially a melody about Alana dancing in a bar with friends trying to get over her ex. “Look I Like”, a song about the physical attraction Alana has for someone she sees from afar in the bar, speaks about how sometimes you need to let your hair down and allow yourself to feel real emotions towards people- and maybe they’re the start of something real and special and long lasting. While TWENTY SOMETHING ends with “Amen”, a piano ballad about finding yourself in your twenties, and acknowledging that sometimes your path isn’t the same as your parent’s path, that ‘…and I’m sorry to my mama, but I’mma live the way I wanna, so I know this life was mine in the end, and I give myself permission to go and make some bad decisions, ’cause I’m only tryna find out who I am, amen…’.

These 18 songs are the reason I am the version of myself that I am today. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, and I think coming out of that history of breaking up era, I had to take some ownership, you know, because I think a lot of those relationships ended because I wasn’t truly giving myself the love that I deserved and just seeking validation in all these other places, but myself. So I’ve learned to trust myself again and to trust my gut and my instincts.

I’m a single white male, so Alana Springsteen’s music shouldn’t resonate with me that much. But it does! Who would’ve thought. But anyway, Alana’s vocals are crazy awesome, and you all need to listen to this debut album so that you can get into the mind of a 20-something year old and into the mind of someone from this generation. TWENTY SOMETHING reminds us that it’s ok to fail at things when you are young (or at any age, actually!), because you can then get back up and start again. Alana has a brilliant career ahead of her, and I can’t wait to hear what is next. Well done, Alana, you deserve all the praise and then some more!

6 songs to listen to: If You Love Me Now, Twenty Something, When We Were Friends, Ghost In My Guitar, Different Kinda Country, Amen

Score: 5/5

RIYL: Lindsay Ell, Kelsea Ballerini, Miranda Lambert, Runaway June, Little Big Town

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