It takes a lot more than being very abruptly and unexpectedly dropped by her record label to stop Lauren Jenkins! Last Friday, 8th May, the same day that she revealed she was no longer with Big Machine, the Nashville based artist released “Ain’t That Hard”, her first single as a newly independent artist.
This will come as no surprise to those already familiar with her backstory which is already one of courage and determination… she started pursuing her creative career aged fifteen, home schooling herself and playing in bars when she was below the legal age, and in our interview with her last year she told of how “There will be a million road blocks on the journey, so you have to figure out a way to keep going. For me creativity and storytelling has always been the only thing I’ve wanted to pursue”.
Signed by Big Machine aged 21, Lauren was with the label for seven years, and having released her debut album “No Saint” to positive reviews last year was named one of the “best new acts in 2019” by Nashville Scene’s prestigious annual critic’s poll as well as being included as an artist to watch by The New York Times, Billboard, Rolling Stone and Pandora.
However, for some reason that Lauren never discovered, plans for her single “Running Out Of Road” to be pushed to the airwaves had not been followed through… of course she is sadly not unique when it comes to such decisions, and the Music Row system in general has been well documented as making it much tougher for female artists to break through, even IF they have a super supportive label behind them. But Lauren’s strong work ethic which included relentless touring (often self financing her expenses) coupled with her talent still helped her build a strong fan base especially overseas, including selling out her first headline show in London last year. 2020 started off with her opening for Brett Eldredge on his European tour, with no help other than her sister which Eldredge‘s team soon realised and they kindly stepped in to offer practical support along the way. It was on her return home from these dates and just a few days before March’s International Women’s Day (which saw Big Machine posting photos to champion some of their female artists, herself ironically included ) that Lauren received the crushing news that she had been dropped by the label. It was the latest in a series of blows that life had dealt her, coming just after Nashville’s devastating tornado and coinciding with her upcoming tour dates beginning to get cancelled due to the unfolding Covid-19 situation.
But as mentioned earlier, all this did definitely not herald the end to Lauren‘s creativity and musical journey, it was just another “road block” for her to manoeuvre around, and these recent experiences, alongside observations made while touring, have helped inspire the new single. Despite what this may lead you to think “Ain’t That Hard” is definitely not a sad song, in fact it is very empowering and positive in many ways…” You hurt me good but that’s just you, and I’ll move on ‘cos that’s what I do” we hear her tell us in the bridge. A thought provoking acoustic ballad, Lauren sings of the many common threads that bind us together, wherever we may be in the world, which have lead her to realise that ” you’re not as special as you think you are, it’s not that hard to break a heart”.
The arrangement is absolutely beautiful, mournful steel, delicate finger picking on acoustic guitar and sweeping strings letting Lauren’s smokey, soulful vocals take centre stage as she describes so vividly what she has noticed about the places she has passed through out on the road. Like any great country song her lyrics transport you to these towns and cities with their often recurring, familiar sights and smells such as “main street bars, football teams, rusty cars and homecoming queens”
Watch out for more new music from Lauren in the near future, too… she is planning the release of her next album which will be unveiled through a series of EPs, it’s a case of onwards and upwards and of course we will keep you up to date with all her news as soon as we hear anything.
“Ain’t That Hard” is available to stream/download here https://fanlink.to/AintThatHard
Article written by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)