Porter Union is back, an they’re back in a big way with their sophomore album Loved & Lost.
The last time we caught up with the duo, they were fresh off of their appearance on USA Network’s Real Country, and were about a year removed from releasing their debut self-titled album. After the release and success of their 2019 single “Lie with Me,” it had us chomping at the bit for the new album they were working on.
Now, Kendra and Cole have delivered. With the titled track serving as the catalyst for creating the album, the band weaves their way through the album’s 13 tracks, and features everything we loved from their debut and more: great harmonies, plenty of steel and fiddle and well-written songs that deliver the “real” feeling that they hope listeners take away from the album, which debuted at number 13 on the iTunes country albums chart.
Read along as Kendra and Cole talk about the pressures of releasing new music, the different “feel” of Loved & Lost, the stories behind many of the songs on the album, what they’ve learned about themselves since meeting a decade ago and more!
Pro Country: You had a lot of success with your debut album, especially with songs like “Don’t You Know,” “Over You” and your single “Lie With Me” that was released last year. Was there a level of pressure to keep that momentum rolling and match or surpass that success with your new album Loved & Lost?
Cole: I think every musician sort of feels a natural pressure to better themselves. Each time you sit down to write a song you don’t think “I’m going to try write a song that’s not as good as the last one.” That just doesn’t happen. There’s a little outside pressure as well, but you have to try to push that aside and focus on your own drive as much as possible.
Kendra: As an artist, I think there is always a pressure to create something better than you have before, but it’s more of a drive than a burden. It’s understanding that as you grow and evolve as an individual, your art needs to grow as well. If it doesn’t, it begins to feel fake. We want to create real music with real emotion. Hopefully that translates to always going above and beyond what we’ve already done.
PC: “I’ve Got You Covered” was released on Valentine’s Day and is serving as the lead single from Loved & Lost. What went in to the decision to release that song ﬁrst?
Cole: It’s just a fun song about love, and what better day to release a fun song about love than Valentine’s Day. We’ve written and released a lot of music about heartache, so it was a nice change a pace to put something wholly positive out into the world.
Kendra: It was such a fun song for us to write and record. Several of our previous singles have been slower tempo with more serious vibes. We wanted to let people know right oﬀ the bat that this album had a diﬀerent feel than a lot of what we’ve done before, and this one was a great example of what’s to come.
PC: The music video for “I’ve Got You Covered” features clips of family, friends and fans with their signiﬁcant other. What has it been like for you to see listeners connecting that song with their own life and loved one, and how much fun was it to put that music video together?
Cole: My cheeks still hurt from smiling and laughing so much while putting that video together. We’re very fortunate to have wonderful friends, family and fans, and it was a great feeling to have them be part of something that they’ve supported for so long. I still smile when I watch it.
Kendra: That video makes my heart swell! We weren’t sure how it would all come together from simply asking our friends and family to ﬁlm themselves with their cell phones, but the realness and raw feeling of everyone just having such a blast dancing to our song makes it perfect. Cole did incredible job of putting all the footage together and making it ﬁt well. I’m not sure any music video we do from here on out will top the joy that that video gives me.
PC: “Loved & Lost” is one of our favorite songs on its album. Why did you decide to name the album after that song?
Cole: “Loved & Lost” was originally meant to be a single because we weren’t in a position to record an entire album, but we loved how it turned out and it really lit a ﬁre under us. We decided that we had to ﬁnd a way to make a full album. So really, that song is the catalyst for the entire record. Also, “Loved & Lost” just seemed like the perfect title because that’s what this record is all about, love and loss.
Kendra: Cole had the idea, or hook rather, for “Loved & Lost” for quite a while. When we ﬁnally sat down and wrote the entire song with Oran Thornton and Jared Hicks, I remember thinking that it was something special. I think it’s such a clever way to spin a very common saying.
PC: “Laundry” is our favorite song on Loved & Lost, and was a solo write by Kendra. Can you talk about the inspiration behind that song?
Kendra: I wrote “Laundry” quite a while ago, and we’ve actually played it live several times. I always make sure to let the crowd know it is not a song written about Cole beforehand! [laughs]. It’s more of a ﬁctional story I wanted to paint after hearing several heartbreaking cheating tales from people around me. I love the way the produced version of “Laundry” turned out. It sounds like pure sadness.
PC: “Where Are You” is another one of our favorites on Loved & Lost, and was a solo write by Cole. Can you talk about the inspiration behind that song and why you chose to include the rough intro to the song?
Cole: I wrote this song on a dark day sitting on a bucket out in my garage. I was exhausted with myself and what seemed to be a losing battle with some personal struggles. It was one of those rare moments when the song just sort of spills out of your soul. Our producer, Oran Thornton, had the idea for the rough intro, and I’m glad that he did, because it sort of captures the essence of that private moment when the song was ﬁrst written. When I listened to it, it’s almost like I’m back sitting on that bucket. It’s not a great feeling, but it’s real.
PC: Do each of you have a favorite song on Loved & Lost? If so, why is it so special to you?
Cole: I really don’t. All of these songs mean something to me, and I’m proud of them all. There are certain songs though, like “That’s the Sprit” that I’m really looking forward to playing live.
Kendra: I’m so proud of every single one of these songs, but “Pennies” holds a special place in my heart. I lost my dad unexpectedly in 2018. He taught me to play guitar and was a huge inspiration to me growing up. “Pennies” is the ﬁrst song I wrote on one of his guitars with help from Cole and Tyler Giles. It’s a perfect picture of pain without being too speciﬁc. I think everyone can relate to a time they have felt that kind of hurt, and I’m so thankful it made it onto this album.
PC: What do you hope listeners take away from Loved & Lost after listening all the way through?
Cole: I hope they feel something real.
Kendra: What he said.
PC: You met a decade ago, and have been performing together nearly that long as well. Wat do you think is the biggest thing you’ve learned about yourselves along the way?
Cole: I think the biggest thing that we’ve learned and have improved upon is working together as a team. Music, and the creation of music especially, is a very personal thing and it’s not always the easiest to share that process with someone. I think we’re getting better and better at acting as one while still being able to be our own people and our own artists.
Kendra: We’ve deﬁnitely learned our speciﬁc strengths and weaknesses throughout the years, which isn’t always the easiest thing to accept. Being able to simply say “you can handle this better than I can” and being able to trust each other to get it done makes working together a whole easier.
PC: Along with promoting the release of Loved & Lost, what are your plans for 2020?
Cole: We plan to tour as much as possible. We’ve got a really great band right now and we’re anxious to play this music in a live setting. Also, we plan to start working on new music as soon as possible. We don’t want so much time to pass before releasing new music again. That’s point of all of this after all.
*Read our first interview with Porter Union here*
*Images courtesy of Porter Union*