Kelsea Balleri Drops Blunt Divorce EP ‘Rolling Up the Welcome Mat’


When Kelsea Balleri was interviewed last year for her largely upbeat album “Subject to Change”, she was in a difficult situation, gaining public attention for her less cheerful personal situation, but (as it were) she had to confirm. Variation Back then), “It was pretty hard to come out and talk about a record I love and eventually get the divorce press, you know?… It’s not a divorce record.”

And yet, six months later, Ballerin is back with the surprise fall of an EP with one thought on this split, which is nothing. However a divorce record. His only focus in “Rolling the Welcome Mat” is filing court papers. And it’s pretty shocking to hear him record his post-marital spirit right after seemingly setting limits on how far he went in the time it took to get into his music – in a good way. Ballerin faced the dilemma faced by many country artists: How to move forward in a genre when reality becomes such a mess, fans want to believe the artists are keeping it real. Now, he finds an unexpectedly insightful solution to this: split all that pain into a dam-blaster of a side project, with no commercial prospects, no press (“divorce pressure” or otherwise), and no hindrance, possibly before returning. to the sunny side of the street.

Country music’s DIVORCE records are hardly ever gone, but Tammy Wynette has gone so far that it’s not something that comes up much in the Nashville writers’ rooms. A few major mavericks have centered their virtual concept albums around their respective episodes – Chicks with “Gaslighter” (if you still consider them country), Kacey Musgraves with “Star-Crossed”, and in the Nashville mainstream, Carly Pearce “29: Written in Stone,” “Excellent interpretations of being ex-girlfriends. Yet even on these three albums, there were at least a handful of tracks about anything other than a triggering split. And the Chicks and Pearson albums found much of their strength in songs that took revenge for their supposed cheating. Ballerina, other than emotional alienation.” it doesn’t claim anything, and so, in this way, the closest real comparison would be Adele’s song “30” – a long song by a woman who encourages divorce and asks the world to understand why infidelity is not the only reason to pull the plug.

“Rumors [are] circulates, but the truth is somewhat subtle,” he says of “Interlude.” “I want to fix it but my lawyer says I shouldn’t / And this town is not just like criticizing a woman / I’m ruining my life but I’m standing by the crater.” Perhaps the best thing about “Rolling the Welcome Mat” is how unscrutinized it feels by the aforementioned lawyers, record companies, but most of all, by too much vested self-interest to play it completely safe. He has the refreshing arrogance of someone who has decided to unload first and then overthink it.

The singer also dramatized the unraveling conditions of a union with a stark, generously produced 20-minute short film he wrote and directed for “Rolling Up the Welcome Mat.” It effectively follows the tradition of Taylor Swift’s short film “All Too Well” finding a singer who directs a stunning visual narrative of real-life moments when she feels disoriented.

All of the mentioned artists, in their confessional accounts of divisions – red scarf; The Hollywood Bowl show where Natalie Maines claims she’s met her replacement – but Ballerina can beat them all for the sheer amount of historical annotations she packs into six songs. From a wedding date on December 2 (“Sometimes I still taste Veuve”) to “somewhere with a view of 8th Street” (here “we singles watched cars” – pure Nashville sign there), mentioning her age at the highest and lowest points (23, respectively). and 29), talking about a big fight year before a big show (2019), not just because these things make sense to him, but because they’re so important to our understanding. With Alysa Vanderheym doing it, one thing is for sure, none of this material feels focus grouped—a writers’ room often serves as Nashville’s own primary focus.

That’s not to say that songs always feel so rigidly autobiographical and devoid of wit. While the EP may sound very little as singular by genre, “Just Married”‘s pun is very much in the vein of classic country songwriting and has the twin positive/negative connotations of “just” – just as it has been lately and in it. But other times it’s country music defined not just by three chords and truth, but by three chords and brutality. “Long-distance texting, make-up sex against time”… “Knowing you have half of it is welcome peels off the door”… “We were supposed to be drunk or we never really talked”… “You never wanted to leave the house, I didn’t want a family” … “Were you just blind? It’s not news to you, baby”… As Olivia Rodrigo didn’t quite say it: It’s brutal out there.

There are references to the songs of both herself (Honey tells of “buying a house with a garden”) and her ex-husband (“Someday you will ask, ‘When is it over for you?’”). rather explicitly quoting Morgan Evans’ “Over for You”). “Leave Me Again”, the last song of the EP, plays Ballerina on acoustic guitar and finds him in a higher spot than most previous issues – “I hope you smile when I see you / I hope you find someone new / I hope you get a house, good wife and kids” – but she’s not so generous that she doesn’t keep the emotional crux to herself: “I hope I’ll never let you go again.” Ballerina fans might consider this a sort of rewrite or sequel to “Miss Me More”, which hit #1 in 2017. The resemblance may be intentional. may or may not be, but that feeling is still effective.

Balleri has never hidden that Shania Twain is an idol, but it’s good to see her leave. When asked if he had written any solid material directly related to his divorce, Twain confirmed that he had written and then put that shit in a drawer. Ballerina “What Would Shania Do?” He answered questions and went his own way here, leaving the drawer open, most likely we’ll see him radiant again in a sparkly bodysuit before the end of 2023. But as she discovered, tears and sequins strike a fine balance.

Congratulations on the cover art of the EP, which apparently depicts the landscape that he’s unhappily sharing from his Nashville loft with his wife, where he truly returns before having to quickly pack eleven things. That sight is now the only thing more common than pedal taverns in downtown Nashville: an unfinished skyscraper. It’s a good visual metaphor to feature an EP that’s too concerned with straightforward narrative to get caught up in anything as superfluous as similes.

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