Haley Mae Campbell’s growing up. And we’re not talking about her age. The singer-songwriter has spent the last year of her career kicking around new tunes, new sounds, and just trying to find her way. What better place to do that than the country music mecca of Nashville? “I think starting to go back and forth to and from Nashville a little bit more was definitely a big influence on me,” says Campbell. Her continued journey as a musician is captured on her latest EP Lover’s Lottery.
Many of the new songs wear that Nashville twang like a badge. According to Campbell, it’s “definitely more country and a little bit more on the rock side than the pop side.” Fiddles and electric guitars drive a lot of the album. “Take a Chance” is an energetic run through a gloomy and metaphor-filled love story. “This love is just a game/ I can never win/ Your kiss is so addicting/ I’ll roll the dice again/ It’s Russian roulette,” she sings.
Campbell’s storytelling has taken a step up on the latest release. The first verse of “Blisters” follows a girl stood-up on a date, and while it’s not a loquacious opening, Campbell chooses her words carefully to express herself as much as possible. “I spent 10 on the ride, 20 on the makeup, 99 on the heels/ Wasted a Friday night on your lame excuses/ How do you think I feel,” Campbell sings before the backing band raises the volume a notch or two in the chorus.
And, thanks to that backing band, Lover’s Lottery feels more natural. “We did the whole album with a live band. It’s not synths or drum loops or any of that,” says Campbell. “It’s all my live band, and I really wanted the record to represent how we sound in a live show.” The EP’s production helps sharpen the sound, and it’s overall much fuller than prior releases. “I always have been kind of wary of tracks and loops and that kind of thing, so I wanted to just create, just be able to capture that kind of realist, rawest version,” she says.
Campbell attributes much of the growth on Lover’s Lottery to the friends she made in Nashville. “Starting to co-write with people was a big step that happened for this record,” she says. Admittedly, the singer-songwriter felt trepidation about working with new people, saying that “it’s almost like going on a first date. You don’t really know if you’re going to get along, you don’t know if you’re going to gel well together.” The first Nashville co-write Campbell completed for this EP was “Oughtta Be.” The tune is a nice introduction to the more organic country sound Campbell has fallen into. A loping western acoustic guitar and long-noted fiddle are on the new music’s attendance list. “It was a good first step to that Nashville sound,” says Campbell.
Spending so much time with experienced working musicians in Tennessee has been a learning experience for Campbell in a time when it’s most crucial for a developing artist. “Everybody seems to already know exactly what their sound is, and that can be a little intimidating, but I also am writing mostly with people that have five to 10 years on me,” says Campbell. “So, I think that was really important for me to realize that I’m exploring and still trying to find exactly what my niche is. I definitely think I’m getting closer.”
Haley Mae Campbell’s sojourn into different sounds has just been part of her growth as an artist. She plans to continue to search for, and expand, her sound throughout the next few releases. “Hopefully within the next few years, maybe the next album, we’ll have it nailed down for sure, but I hope that everyone comes along with me on the journey,” she says.