Authenticity makes up the marrow of a musician’s bones. If performers try to sell a bag of good instead of their heart and soul, they’ll lose both the adoration of their fans and the respect of their peers. Luckily for Kelsey Waldon, being true to herself has never been an issue, and she’s looking forward to sharing her life’s smooth and jagged edges in Washington, D.C. tomorrow evening.
“One of our responsibilities as songwriters is to absorb the good and the bad and come at our music from a very human aspect,” the country singer said. “All of my favorite artists wear their heart on their sleeve to an extent — it’s part of the job — so I wanted to write about a real human experience from all points of view.”
Waldon takes that perspective to a more personal level with her recent album, “White Noise / White Lines.” Her third collection to date, the Kentucky-born singer and songwriter shifts the focus from expressing the ups and downs of other peoples’ stories to using her own life as the centerpiece of the album.
That’s been easier since the three year gap between “White Noise / White Lines” and her prior work saw Waldon’s status in the country music scene skyrocket. With “The Gold Mine” and “I’ve Got a Way,” her first and second albums, respectively, Waldon recognizes that they were important still frames of where she was at the time and can serve as reference point for her growth.
But after “I’ve Got a Way,” she’d spent a large chunk of time touring and gathered, as she so eloquently put it, the necessary “skillet grease” to be able to take the telepathic connection between her and her bandmates into the studio. The strength of that relationship gave her the space to tinker with how she wants her own story to be articulated, even if she’s familiar with the subject matter.
“It’s easier to talk about me because I know exactly who I am, and if I don’t, I’m clearly trying to figure it out through songwriting, as well as really trying to understand the world around me.” Waldon added. “I just didn’t want to be afraid to say whatever I have to say, and I hope it influences other people to speak their own truth.”
A constant in all of Waldon’s work has been its attachment to a hearty country sound. Bouncy acoustic rhythms are balanced out by the sharper electric riffs and up-tempo percussion in “Anyhow,” while Waldon’s distinct, rangy voice shares the spotlight with a groovy guitar solo in “All By Myself.” The album’s title track feels like a pensive mosey through Waldon’s mind, as her real world observations trade bars with her wandering thoughts. It gives the album a rich feel, and with the knowledge that this is more of Waldon than she had previously shared, adds a layer of depth to each line.
Waldon looks to pair her real country sound with a real portrait of herself on stage at the Songbyrd Music House.
Kelsey Waldon will be performing at Songbyrd Music House (18th St. NW, Washington, D.C.) on Oct. 8 at 9 p.m. For tickets, visit bandsintown.com/e/101461142.