Songwriters are going to write about what they know, and recently, Bailey James knows heartache all too well. After experiencing her first true heartbreak, James has coped the only way she knows how; she wrote about the varying emotions that come with a breakup, and those emotions have revealed themselves in the form of her two newest singles, “Over You” and “Finally Free.”
The former, a southern rocking tune with pounding drums, power chords and an equally powerful vocal, is an empowering, anthemic song about overcoming a heartbreak, while “Finally Free,” which James labels as the more honest of the two songs, features a soaring vocal that would make the likes of Robert Plant and Martina McBride proud.
We chatted with James about both songs, including the inspiration behind them, seeing “Finally Free” chart in PlayMPE’s top five among several of country music’s biggest acts, performing with The Highway Women, her plans for new music and more!
Pro Country: You mentioned on social media that your last single, “Over You,” was a “goodbye to youth” song for you. Can you talk about why the song was transformative for you and felt like a new chapter?
Bailey James: I had been in the same relationship for a while, and sometimes when you get stuck in that routine with someone, you limit yourself from progressing. As soon as we broke up, so many amazing things started happening. It’s like the universe knew I needed to be alone for that.
PC: Why did you feel that your new single, “Finally Free,” was the right follow up to “Over You”?
BJ: “Over You” was fun, cheeky and empowering, but “Finally Free” is the more honest song out of both. It’s truthful and it’s raw, and it just felt right.
PC: While “Over You” features a southern-rocking vibe, “Finally Free” is a much more bluesy song. As someone who admittedly draws from various genres for sonic influence, how important is it for you to stay in touch with those influences and to have a certain diversity with your releases?
BJ: Extremely important. That’s why I listen to blues, soul, and rock music as much as possible. I want to keep up with everything new.
PC: Can you talk about the inspiration behind “Finally Free”?
BJ: A bad breakup. My first real heartbreak. It was the worst, and I just needed to get all those emotions out of me.
PC: Prior to its release, “Finally Free” landed at number five on PlayMPE’s most-streamed country singles, charting with artists like Miranda Lambert, Old Dominion and Florida Georgia Line. How encouraging was it to see the momentum the song was gaining even prior to its release?
BJ: It was amazing! Something I have never experienced. I’m super grateful that people emote to this song like I do.
PC: Many of your recent singles have dealt with heartbreak, love lost or moving on. Is that a theme you’ve intentionally been hitting on, or something that has happened naturally for you in this recent stretch?
BJ: I’m just a hopeless romantic, and I love deeply. Every relationship feels like the one to me, so I write about what I know. I don’t think I’d be able to sing the song correctly if not directly experiencing it.
PC: Along with consistently releasing solo music, you are also a member of The Highway Women, with which you have released two singles. How did you get involved in the project and what is it like for you to collaborate with all of the talented artists in the band?
BJ: I was friends with a few of the girls in the band, and I naturally met Jill Pavel. It’s amazing and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.
PC: As someone who is typically pretty active with live performances, what has the last year-plus of incredibly limited live performances been like for you? What was the adjustment like for you and how were you able to stay busy?
BJ: I stayed busy by exercise and writing. Quarantine was an amazing time for me actually, but as soon as I got back on stage, I realized all I had missed.
PC: Of the things you can control, what are your plans for the rest of 2021?
BJ: Bigger better music. 🙂
*Bailey’s music is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*