Kelsea Ballerini – Rolling Up The Welcome Mat (For Good)

Black River Entertainment

Release Date: August 11th 2023

Reviewed by: Joshua Andre

Kelsea Ballerini– Rolling Up The Welcome Mat (For Good) (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. Mountain With A View
  2. Just Married
  3. Penthouse (Healed Version) (Live)
  4. Interlude (Full Length)
  5. Blindsided (Yeah, Sure, Okay)
  6. Leave Me Again
  7. How Do I Do This?

Country singer Kelsea Ballerini and country singer Morgan Evans divorced last year. It was something that we the public didn’t know about, and we were probably kind of shocked by. For me, I’m not that fussed by the private lives of musicians and Hollywood stars. Just as long as the songs and the acting performances aren’t negatively affected even if there is something up in their private lives. But when news of Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner’s impending divorce broke today; it seemed that I would need to speak about this issue of people in Hollywood marrying and then divorcing and then marrying again.

Kelsea and Morgan divorced, and then Kelsea went ahead and wrote and recorded an entire album inspired by her divorce, and explaining herself, and then being okay with the divorce in the end. To be fair, Kelsea mentioned in countless songs on Rolling Up The Welcome Mat (For Good) that she was drifting away from Morgan for a while now… but should this album even have been made? It’s Kelsea’s most personal album to date and no doubt, these songs are incredibly honest, emotional, and personal. But they’re tainted from her personal point of view and to fully embrace and love these songs means to not hear the other side and to not even want to hear the other side. Rolling Up The Welcome Mat (For Good) is a weird release, and for me to prioritise one song over another and for me to like one track over another means me subtly agreeing to Kelsea’s divorce and her new relationship with Chase Stokes. Back in the day, marriage meant something. ‘To death do us part’ meant something, and I feel that Hollywood cheapens marriage nowadays to ‘I’ll marry you until I’m bored, then I’ll divorce even if you want to stay married, and I’ll couch it as ‘irreconcilable differences’ and then I’ll date someone else even if it still hurts you’… and does this mean that I find the whole situation icky and strange? I don’t know who is at fault. I probably never will, and I don’t have an inkling to. But to capitalise on a very private moment and to air your most personal information to the world, probably not at the agreement of the other person… is this right? is it ethically and morally right?

I’ve listened to some of these tracks. Not all of them though. They’re emotional to a tee and they perfectly describe where Kelsea is right now as a person and in her headspace as an artist. But I can’t in good conscience advocate for listening to this album now, and any day in the future. Because the moment I do say that this album is worth listening to, then it’s in that very moment where my fundamental values change, and I abandon everything I’ve believed prior. And because I’m a Christian and I hold steadfast to the beliefs of marriage for your entire life and to only divorce as a last resort (which I believe too many people, Kelsea and Morgan included, flippantly divorce when they could stick it out and see God restore their marriage to be even more beautiful and solid than it was before!); I don’t think that I can listen to this project and recommend it to anyone. Maybe I can listen to these songs later on in isolation. But knowing some of the story makes me pretend that this release never happened.

Kelsea Ballerini’s latest release champions running away when the going gets tough. That’s the long and short of it. I don’t’ pretend to know the ins and outs of everything that went down. But while there is a sadness there in some songs, the songs that are jovial and happy on this project feel weird. Sure, this is what Kelsea is feeling. But perhaps waiting longer until the dust settles would’ve been better. Personally, this release isn’t going to stop me want to listen to Kelsea Ballerini songs. There’s still something about Kelsea’s songs, aside from this EP, that make me revisit them again and again. Maybe it’s Kelsea’s passion or the fact that it seems like she’s being super honest. Maybe it’s her fun demeanour that shines through, or maybe it’s because these songs make it seem like Kelsea’s one of the rare genuine people in the music industry who isn’t afraid to say what she thinks. But whatever the case, if you were like me before and not a fan of country music whatsoever, I reckon that Kelsea’s new albums kelsea and ballerini (and Subject To Change), will make you a fan. It certainly has for me; is there anything more I need to say? So shall we say that Kelsea may be a young Carrie Underwood in the making? From the looks of the past few albums and songs, she may be well on the way! Shall we listen to this EP though and praise it? For it’s bravery and courage? Probably. For it’s values that it teaches- to divorce like marriage means nothing? Definitely not! But let’s give Kelsea grace, and see how the next album sounds like…

3 songs to listen to: Mountain With A View, Penthouse, Leave Me Again

Score: 2.5/5

RIYL: Lady A, Dixie Chicks, Maren Morris, Kane Brown, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert

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