Nashville is flush with fabled tales of artist discoveries and “overnight” successes in country music - glossy assertions of elusive individuals appearing out of the neon haze and landing straight onto the mainstream airwaves.
Though often revered, these stories rarely take into account the full scope of the journey, overlooking that magical juncture when failures, blistered fingers and tears transform into the lauded dream. 2023 marks that moment for Alana Springsteen, an artist whose success is as admirable as the hard-earned journey she's taken along the way
At the tender age of seven, the Virginia Beach native started her musical journey by learning chords on a guitar gifted to her by her grandfather. This ignited a love for music that led to her writing her own songs by age nine, traveling to Music City by age 10 and finally making a permanent move there with her family when she landed her first publishing deal.
Since then, she’s worked with industry veterans like Shane McNally and Liz Rose to hone her songwriting skills, resulting in the independently released and critically praised EPs HISTORY OF BREAKING UP (Part One and Part Two). Now with millions of streams and appearances at the Grand Ole Opry under her belt, the results of her determined efforts during her teenage years speak for themselves.
Residing with music powerhouse Columbia Records NY / Sony Music Nashville, Springsteen is set to release her major label debut with an ambitious three-part album aptly titled TWENTY SOMETHING, all while on the road supporting Adam Doleac on his Barstool Whiskey Wonderful tour.
Yet, even with all of these current accomplishments, Springsteen still boils it down to having a simple dream and a heart that yearns to share her voice through song. “The only thing worth chasing is the most original, honest version of yourself”, she shares.
Between prepping for a major three-part album release and another busy tour, one might wonder how the 22-year-old finds time to stay centered and focused on her craft. “It’s actually one of the hardest things" she explains further. "One of my goals is just to be more present. Every day, I have something worth celebrating and I need to take time to be present and celebrate all of these small moments. I am just living my dream”.
A major part of the dream has been the creative partnerships she's formed over the years with both songwriters and fellow artists across the music industry. From recording her first outside-written cut ‘New Number’, to her buzzy new duet ‘Goodbye Looks Good On You’ with Mitchell Tenpenny, Springsteen seeks out not just material she personally connects with, but individuals that share her depth of dedication to their own artistry.
This is perhaps most evident in the revisit of BRELAND’s mid-tempo break-up ballad ‘For What It’s Worth’. Joining for a duet version, Springsteen elevates the song with a new verse from the other partner’s perspective. “BRELAND is an incredible artist”, she joyfully comments. “When I heard this song, I saw myself in it. I spent the last few years writing about a break-up. I wished someone had come back to say this to me. It’s such a mature, self-aware take on a break-up song”.
Relationships have been a focal point of Springsteen’s previous releases, her fans connecting with her willingness to share reflections of her own heartache. This new collection promises the same, yet expands further into the trials and tribulations of becoming a young adult. Moving into the release of her debut record TWENTY SOMETHING, Springsteen has been in a stage of self-growth and realisation.
“Your twenties are filled with so many different phases. I feel like one day I’m on top of the world and then the other I’m like ‘How do I pay bills? How do I keep gas in the car? Stay on top of laundry?’ It’s highs and lows and everything in between. I’m really learning to come into my own. This first set is all about messing it up. Being self-aware about the times where I’ve gotten it wrong”.
This awareness is evident throughout the Messing It Up instalment of TWENTY SOMETHING. For those familiar with her growing catalog, it’s tonally identifiable as a Springsteen project, but there’s an assertive independence and downright defiance that demonstrates a departure from her previous work on HISTORY OF BREAKING UP.
It’s heard from the get-go on the opener ‘You Don’t Deserve a Country Song’, which practically sizzles through the speaker as Springsteen explores deeper parts of her vocal register. Yet it’s the closing ‘Shoulder to Cry On’ that pushes her artistry to new heights. It’s triumphant not just because of the stellar vocal delivery, but due to its masterclass in syncopated lyrical structure.
Springsteen extends that this was one of the more vulnerable moments during a writing session at Liz Rose’s beach house. “I’m a beach girl – I grew up with it, so I felt at home and comfortable enough there to allow me to get to that place. I’m not the most outwardly emotional person. I can’t stand people seeing me cry. That’s why most of my most vulnerable moments have happened in a car. Between breakups and bad days, it's about finding that safety when you are by yourself”.
Springsteen’s ability to understand herself - and to address it outwardly - is what has made her music so universally appealing to fans. Though she creates from a space that is uniquely her own, the songs she offers touch on emotional themes experienced by everyone.
Springsteen shares that she wants TWENTY SOMETHING to be an “in-the-moment piece of work”, one that encapsulates the journey of her young adulthood and that allows each song to have the space to be “digested and understood” by the listener.
“My guiding light is always the fans”, she says. “I don’t even like that term because it feels odd. I feel like these people are my friends. I always test out material with them and they let me know with their response if I need to get back into the studio.”
When not in the studio, Springsteen dazzles as a stage performer, one whose poise and determination has established her as an in-demand touring partner. Yet in all the artistic spaces she currently reigns, there is no other that tugs at her heartstrings quite like a writers’ room. “I have been writing since I was nine years old. I hold it so close and respect my community in Nashville. I wouldn’t be here without them and everything I’ve learned along the way”.
As one of Holler’s 23 Artists for 2023, a member of the Class of 2023 for CMT’s Next Women of Country and designated as MusicRow’s Next Big Thing, it is clear that this journey in country music is just beginning. With a sincere respect for her craft, a community of trusted artists around her and a growing legion of fans that are friends, Alana Springsteen is an artist charting their course for superstardom.
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