Release Date: March 17th 2023
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Never Been In Love
- Champagne Problem
- Thank You Card
- Didn’t Have To Drink
- 20Something (feat. Julia Cole)
Ever since 2019 and our ever-on-going blog series (which we’re still in the middle of!), 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. 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 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. Haley Mae Campbell is an artist that has flown by underneath the radar. Simply because she’s an independent artist and not on a major label. Sure, fans of Haley would know her discography inside and out. But the casual fan of myself would have no idea. But this year, one of her songs from her latest EP 20Something found its way onto a Spotify playlist I was listening to one day. From then on, I eagerly dived deep into Haley’s material, and found that as a country singer, her lyrics are incredibly deep and her passion and zeal for life so admirable. Haley’s songs aren’t as polished as veterans in the industry like Carrie or Miranda or Kelsea or Lainey or Carly. But the honesty and vulnerability is still here, as we as listeners are met with one of the most vulnerable EP’s of the year thus far.
Grown up and immature, fearless and insecure, your 20’s are a never-ending series of should’s and should not’s. Between love, life, and purpose, we’re all looking for somewhere to belong. If there’s one thing I’ve learned by now, it’s that nobody ever really has it figured out.
Starting off the EP with “Never Been In Love”, Haley powerfully and honestly delivers a melody about being in love and being hit by the ‘butterflies’ so much so that it feels like you’ve never been in love at all until that one first time. A song that celebrates young love and true love, we are encouraged to never rest until we find that special someone and to never settle for second best. When we find that person whom we just click with, Haley encourages us to never let them go; and that is the essence of this song. It’s cool to feel like in the ‘honeymoon phase’ all the time, but once we know that this person is it for us, Haley encourages us to take the risk and marry them.
The rest of the EP celebrates life in your 20’s with all of the ups and downs. “Ms. Fire”, an emotional and heartbreaking ballad, speaks about a failed relationship where Haley feels as though she miscalculated the extent of her feelings for the other person and the other person for her- they started off friends, dove deep into something romantic and then it fizzled out. It isn’t known if Haley and the other person are still friends or not, but the moral of the story is that sometimes things don’t work out and there’s nothing you can do about it, but that doesn’t mean you don’t take a risk and you don’t try out the things you want to. “Champagne Problem”, a fun and sassy song about drinking champagne, is similar in theme to Kelsea Ballerini’s “Hole In The Bottle”; while Haley champion’s her current partner’s ex, and thanks her for breaking up with him, outlining that ‘…I gotta give credit where credit is due, if she never let go, I wouldn’t be holdin’ you, the best damn thing I’ve ever had in my arms, whoever she is, I should look her up, wish her well, give her all my love, I wanna write it all down, cross the T’s, dot the I’s with a heart and send your ex a little, “Thank You card”…’. “Didn’t Have To Drink”, a heartbreaking ballad, speaks about how Haley’s ex only calls her and wants to get back together with her only when he is drunk, and Haley outlines that she wished he would miss her just on his own without the alcohol. Not that she’d take him bac, because… I think she’s married? But just for the satisfaction of being missed and him figuring out that he missed out and it was his fault. 20Something then ends with the title track- the celebratory party anthem about celebrating life in your twenties- a stirring duet with up-and-coming country singer Julia Cole.
I’m a single white male, so Haley Mae Campbell’s music shouldn’t resonate with me that much. But it does! Who would’ve thought. But anyway, Haley’s vocals are crazily awesome, and you all need to listen to this EP so that you can get into the mind of a 20-something year old and into the mind of someone from this generation. 20Something, similar in theme to Alana Springsteen’s Twenty Something: Messing It Up, 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. Haley, like Alana, has a brilliant career ahead of her, and I can’t wait to hear what is next. Well done, Haley, you deserve all the praise and then some more!
3 songs to listen to: Champagne Problem, Thank You Card, 20Something
RIYL: Hannah Ellis, Erin Kinsey, Ashley Cooke, King Calaway, Brian Kelley, Lady A, Caitlyn Smith, Old Dominion