Since California-born singer/songwriter Anna Vaus released her debut EP, The California Kid, in 2018, she's only continued to strengthen her songwriting prowess.
On Wild Honey, her new EP premiering exclusively with Holler, Vaus delivers five songs that span the pain of love ('Girl in a Bar'), her desire for independence ('Born on a Windy Day') and a reminder to chase your dreams ('Wild Honey'). The project showcases the striking harmony Vaus has found between her sunny California past and her Nashville country-pop present. Listen below.
Where Vaus strutted on The California Kid, acting tough on 'Mama's Eyes, Daddy's Habits' and rolling her eyes at herself on 'Day Job', Wild Honey takes a softer turn.
The title track originated years ago when Vaus was a teenager. "I wrote it from a younger version of myself to me now", Vaus told Holler. "I keep a piece of paper in my desk drawer at my parent’s house that I typed out when I was 13. It’s in the OG Taylor Swift font and it says, 'Never give up. Love, 13-year-old you'. That’s the girl that I want to nurture and hold onto forever and who I think about every time that I sing 'Wild Honey'."
On the standout 'Elephant', Vaus sings of heartbreak – and its sudden sharpness – while backed by touches of banjo and piano that build into a sentimental ache. "We ain't strangers / We ain't friends / We're just two people trying to pretend," she sings, her voice heavy with hurt.
Before writing the song, Vaus had ended a relationship and couldn't wrap her head around the pain of going from knowing someone intimately to being shut out of their life. "I wrote 'Elephant' with one of my really good friends, Melissa Sheridan", Vaus explained. "The song came really quickly, and the moment we finished it I became kind of terrified to show it to anyone because it felt so honest", she said. "Like the kind of honest where you feel naked in a room of fully clothed people".
That sense of honesty resonates throughout Wild Honey, which reveals a talented songwriter coming into her own, growing more honest about who she is and what she has to say.
"Wild Honey feels like flipping through the 'gracefully stumbling into my twenties' section of my journal", Vaus said. "Each of these songs come from a place of looking around and being like, 'How the heck does this whole life thing work? How do you act when you run into your ex in a bar? How do you tell someone you’re kind of flighty and terrible at relationships but still interested in them? How do you navigate moving across the country to do something you’ve dreamed of doing your whole life while also being kind of scared to make the jump?'"
Vaus doesn't have answers, but she knows the power of music. "I don’t think any of the songs answer those questions, but they are someone to walk through each one of those emotions with", she added.
It's no wonder that her songwriting has drawn comparisons to some of country's biggest names - like Lambert, Kacey Musgraves and Margo Price. Similar to those distinctive voices, Vaus is poised to tell big stories.
Wild Honey arrives on all streaming platforms on Friday, July 16.