At its core, one of the founding principles of country music is its ability to speak directly to its fanbase and the problems they’re having, and even if it’s just for a moment, let them know that they’re not alone and allow them to heal.
That principle holds true for the artists that make the music as well; sometimes it’s easier to put things in a song than to plainly speak them, such is the case for Allie Colleen and her new concept album Best Friend.
Taking listeners on a journey of losing a best friend to making steps towards reconciliation, Colleen says she’s felt validated by the response she’s heard from her fans and how relatable those messages are to them, all the while, undergoing a journey of healing herself.
We chatted with Colleen about growing up around music and catching the music bug herself, what the response to her first releases has meant to her, honing in on her sound, all about her new concept album, her plans for the rest of the year and more!
Pro Country: It’s well known that you grew up surrounded by music. At what point did you catch the bug and realize you wanted to pursue music yourself?
Allie Colleen: I’ve wanted to do music for as long as I can remember. There isn’t really a time I can remember that I didn’t want to do it. I really started as soon as I started to read; I started studying poetry when I was about eight, and I progressed from there into songwriting. I’ve just always loved it.
PC: As you were laying that groundwork, who were some of the poetic, songwriting and artistic influences you were connecting with and being drawn towards?
AC: I don’t know why, but Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry always got me for some reason. From there, I started writing my own with his influence. From a songwriting perspective, I’m a huge Jo Dee Messina fan, and I loved her storytelling ability in her songs. I fell in love with that kind of music and those stories as a kid.
PC: What emotions were you feeling as you were preparing to release music for the first time with your single “Work in Progress”?
AC: I felt like “Work in Progress” was such a sweet spot for me as a songwriter and artist to just be able to put out a song that tells you right off the bat that I’m a work in progress [laughs]. I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing, I was just swinging and hoping to hit something and just loving every second of it. It was the perfect song out of the gate, and it turned out pretty well for us!
PC: To that point, “Work in Progress” has gone on to earn well over 200,000 streams in just over a year since its release. Is there a level of validation that comes with having that success out of the gate?
AC: It’s funny you say that, because I always get really caught up in what other people’s numbers look like, and not as much about mine. Now that we have a couple releases under our belt, I really try to celebrate the small moments for myself, like being on playlists for the first time; those have been cool little mile markers for us to keep hitting.
PC: What has it been like for you to hit those markers like being playlisted, charting and receiving radio play as you’re continuing to make a name for yourself?
AC: It’s so exciting! I feel like I don’t celebrate enough; my husband tells me that a lot [laughs]. As soon as something happens, I always ask myself what the next thing is going to be, because time feels fleeting sometimes in this industry, and you don’t know how long you’re going to be around. I’m working a little harder these days to slow down and enjoy those moments, but it’s also really easy to get caught up in it and try to beat your previous milestones.
PC: Your sophomore single, “Along the Way,” discusses overcoming and carving your own path in a way. Would you say that song is a message for yourself? What do you hope listeners take away from the song?
AC: Along the way he has such a cool production vibe behind it that was very apparent from the first write. The melody was just so cool, and I was playing with a guitar player who’s much more talented than I am, and it just felt really good. I was excited to have that place and “Work in Progress” where I could step in and be mysterious and nostalgic as I showed who I am. “Along the Way” showcases a different side of Allie Colleen. That song kind of just came about; it wasn’t an idea that came into the write, it surfaced at some point between A and B, so for me as a person, the meaning of that song keeps changing. It was written about my best friend and encouraging her to go and experience the world, and now in this season of life I’m in, it’s more of a Godly message that’s telling me to go to experience the world, but to come back to what’s important at the end of the day.
PC: “Ain’t the Only Hell (My Momma Raised),” released in June, takes a bit more of a contemporary approach than your previous two singles. Is it at all important for you to have that level of sonic diversity and be able to tap into various “lanes” with you music?
AC: It’s been really interesting looking at possible albums, because you ask yourself if you’re just going to have a hodgepodge album of different vibes and feelings, or if we really need to solidify a sound. A big difference in the three singles is that the first two had one producer, and “Ain’t the Only Hell” and our recent releases have had a different producer. Some of that diversity comes from other peoples’ influences on the songs, because we cater to the song when we are recording. With those three songs out, it’s hard to say what a collection would be, but for myself, I think it’s definitely important to be able to tap into those different lanes.
PC: You released your new concept EP Best Friend at the end of July, which discusses the heartbreak that comes with ending a friendship and eventual reconciliation. Can you talk about why you decided to release the songs in that way and if it was at all cathartic to be able to release them?
AC: That whole process was really special. We wrote “Best Friend” about three years ago, and that’s a heartbreak song about what it’s like to lose a friend; no intimacy at all, just someone who’s your best friend. It talks about losing that and what’s that’s like, and that was a hard road to travel because I was living that when I wrote it. As I would meet women on the road, they always wanted to talk about their story and what happened with them, so then I found that there were a whole group of women that reconciled that relationship, went back and figured out what happened and fixed it. It might not have ever been the same, but there was a change, and I was always very envious of that. I was very lucky to have my moment a few months ago where I got to talk to her for the first time. That was so special to me. That’s why we decided to release them together; they pair together so well. You do feel that heartbreak, but you learn as time goes on, you’re just going to keep hurting if you keep holding on to that hurt, so it was special to put them together, and hopefully it provides other women with healing as well.
PC: In just a few weeks since its release, “Best Friend” has earned several thousand streams and is performing really well out of the gate. What do you think it is about that song, and more specifically, that message that is allowing it to connect with people the way it has?
AC: Not to sound big-headed, but personally, I just don’t think it’s been done yet. I was very lucky, because we wrote that song three years ago and nobody’s released that hook yet. It really is a love song, that specifically country music, the genre of storytelling, really doesn’t have. I feel like a lot of industries, whether it be pop or country, never put women together. They’re always fighting against each other or competing, and “Best Friend” allows women to sit in the pain of losing a best friend that was so important to them. It brings back all those feelings, whether the relationship ended when you were six or when you’re older. It’s kind of a timeless concept among women, and I’m sure men too, but it hits that estrogen vein pretty heavy [laughs].
PC: “Road You Take” serves as a sequel of sorts to “Best Friend” and discusses a path to forgiveness. Can you talk about the inspiration behind the song and the personal journey that took place between the writing of “Best Friend” and “Road You Take” that led you to that point?
AC: I did not want “Road You Take” to happen, I could tell you that right off the bat. I wanted to be angry and sulky and all of those things [laughs]. At the end of the day, me and that person have a connection, and we ended up in the same place a few months back. Nothing magical happened, but we were able to talk about things and really figure out what happened. We don’t know what our future looks like, but it was still really healing. My co-writer came to me with the hook, “forgiveness ain’t a line you cross, it’s a road you take.” I told her, “Mel, get that crap outta here [laughs]. I don’t wanna write about it, I don’t wanna think about it, I’m angry.” And she said that I was hurting myself more than anything. She went on that journey with me, and I got to be honest and really talked about it for the first time. I literally felt lighter the next day; I really did need it, even though I didn’t want it. That was a really special thing for me; to be able to provide both sides of that story for women who’ve been through the same thing was really reassuring for me as a storyteller.
PC: You mentioned earlier about working with a new producer, Joe Costa, on your three newest songs. What has it been like to work with Joe, and how has he been able to bring out the best in you with these most recent releases?
AC: It’s been amazing! Joe is the first producer I’m working with that’s actually known me prior to working together. He and his wife are a duo, Joe & Martina, and they’re amazing. We met them at shows three or four years ago, and we became really good friends. I didn’t have to go into a studio and explain to Joe what my vision was, he heard “Ain’t the Only Hell” a thousand times just playing it out on the road when our shows would crossover. It’s really special to work with somebody who already knows me and what my foundations are.
PC: 2020 has altered most of the plans of artists so far. Of the things you can control, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
AC: We’ve put out three songs during this year so far, and we haven’t really been able to showcase them live, so it’s been really weird. The promotion aspect of it has been interesting, because you don’t want your followers to see it every single day on social media, because you’ll make your fans hate it. You have to stay away from that, but I don’t feel like there’s a lot of opportunities for us to showcase these songs. We don’t really have a clue what we’re going to do [laughs]. I’m hoping to be able to do some shows in a safe and distant way, but we’re also just really stepping back and allowing the world to do whatever it’s doing right now.
*Images by The Factory Photography by Goldy Locks and Moments by Moser Photography*
***Find Allie’s music featured on The Best of Pro Country Playlist!***