Delaney Ramsdell Kicks of a Year Full of Music with Heartbreaking Single, “Wishful Thinkin'”

2023 will be a year of a lot of things for Delaney Ramsdell, but most importantly, it’s a year of reintroduction; a year for the Roosevelt, Texas native to harken back to her true artistic identity and present the best version of herself to date, as she plans to do with the release of both an acoustic EP and a fully-produced effort, Rambler.

Ramsdell’s newest single, “Wishful Thinkin’,” serves as the first taste of that reintroduction, as she paints a picture of a woman hesitant to take an uncomfortable step in life with a bare bones, vulnerable, acoustic production that captures both her high lonesome vocal and the emotion-packed lyrics.

We chatted with Ramsdell all about Rambler and her acoustic EP, as well as her artistic identity, her time at Belmont University, her songwriting approach and more!

Pro Country: Who were some of the early artists you remember hearing that made you fall in love with music?

Delaney Ramsdell: I grew up listening to classic country. I’m originally from west Texas, and we only had one radio station that we shared with the next town over. That radio station almost exclusively played classic country. Artists like Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson were big inspirations for me. As I got a little bit older, I fell in love with 70s folk-rock and Americana, so artists like James Taylor and Emmylou Harris became really big inspirations for me. And then there were storytellers like Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark were big as well. I lived in the best of both worlds in terms of having the classic country and folk-rock combination.

PC: When did it start to become clear to you that music and songwriting were things you wanted to pursue as a career?

DR: I’ve been writing songs for pretty much my whole life. I think I started writing songs when I was 11. I did my first performance when I was five years-old. When I was 15, I decided that maybe those were things I wanted to do. I started auditioning for Belmont’s Songwriting Program when I was 17. That same year, I released my first project. My dad and I drove six and a half hours from Roosevelt to Magnolia to Red Tree Studios to record my first project. 

PC: The project you mentioned, Right Here, My Dear in 2018 served as your debut EP. What emotions were you feeling as you were preparing to release music for the first time with that EP?

DR: I look back on what I did with a lot of fondness. I’m really proud that I wrote most of those songs when I was 16 or so, and for being 16 years-old, they’re not too bad [laughs]. It’s definitely a different musical direction; I didn’t really know who I wanted to be musically at that time. How could you know at that young? I did a lot of growing and changing; a lot of refinding myself when I went to Belmont. That project wasn’t necessarily “country” country, and I fell back in love with my musical roots at Belmont. You really start to realize what you miss when you don’t have it. I grew up on country music, and I decided I wanted to be something different. Now, I’m like, “shoot, I wanna take that back.” [laughs]. Moving forward, I’ve found that I need to be true to who I am. I’m releasing an acoustic EP of three live one take acoustic songs in a little over a month. I also made a seven song fully-produced EP that’s coming out later this year. I feel like I’m starting to hit my stride stylistically with what I’m trying to say and who I’m trying to be. I’m doing what feels natural, which is a good feeling.

PC: You graduated from Belmont University’s Songwriting program in 2021. What was it like to be surrounded by the collective talent of the student base and professors at the school?

DR: I had a great experience at Belmont. I loved the people I was around and I loved the professors. I was very closely mentored by a lot of them. Half of my college career was during Covid, so that changed things a little bit, but I always felt super encouraged by the students I was with. I made lifelong friends with people in that program, and it really changed the trajectory of my career. I learned a lot of what I use in my daily mechanics of the way I think about songwriting. They don’t teach you how to write a song, per sé, you don’t just go in knowing nothing because it’s an audition-based program, but my philosophy about art and the way I approach a song was cultivated at Belmont.

PC: During your time at Belmont, you won an ASCAP songwriter’s night. As an artist honing their craft, what does something like that do for your confidence as a songwriter?

DR: I was shocked! I was a freshman when I won that, and it was very unexpected. I had applied before and been rejected. I had actually been rejected from the Songwriting Program the first time too. That was a big blow to my confidence at the time, so winning that was fantastic for me. I didn’t really know what I was worth to that point. The song that I won with is actually coming out on my fully-produced EP, Rambler, later this year. It was a solo-write, and that was really affirming for me. I got to play for about 3,000 kids at Belmont. It was awesome!

PC: You grew up in Roosevelt, Texas, which had a population of 18. Is there a bit of a culture shock that came with relocating and being present in a bustling city like Nashville?

DR: Oh my God, yes! I was literally like “what the hell have I gotten myself in to?” [laughs]. I’d never been around that many people before. I’d been to big cities before; I’m really fortunate that my parents wanted us to see the world and see different cultures. We did a lot of traveling, but I’d never lived in a place like that where you’re surrounded by so many people. I’ve lived here for about five years and I’m homesick almost every day. I’m really connected to the ranch that I grew up on, to Texas and to my family. I almost feel like I live in both places, but it was definitely the biggest culture shock ever. I’m still fascinated that I can get to a Walmart in about 10 minutes when it used to take us and hour forty-five [laughs].

PC: Your newest single, “Wishful Thinkin’,” comes five years after the Right Here, My Dear EP. As release day was approaching, how much were you looking forward to having a new song to present after that kind of layoff? 

DR: I was scared as hell, I didn’t know what was going to happen [laughs]. You’re putting yourself out there for the world to see. It had been so long, and things had changed so much since 2018 when I released that EP. I had changed so much too. People had been asking when I was going to be releasing music again, and I never knew how to give them a clear answer. I had been holding songs for years and waiting for them to be perfect. I finally had to bite the bullet and realize that it was never going to be perfect; there’s never going to be a perfect time. You obviously want to set yourself up for success and do all the right things, but you have to let the songs live and give them the best lives possible. I couldn’t have done that without putting them out and being scared in the process. 

PC: You mentioned earlier that you have a three-song acoustic EP on the way. Why did you feel that “Wishful Thinkin’” was the right song to kick off this new musical chapter and serve as the first song from the release?

DR: It’s funny, because I never thought I would release “Wishful Thinkin’.” It was a solo-write. I do this thing where every now and again, I sit down and write a song in about 15 minutes. It’s part of my process. A lot of times, the songs are okay, sometimes, the songs are really awesome, and sometimes, they’re really not [laughs]. Writing by myself is a big part of my process, but I never thought this one would see the light of day. We had done the fully-produced EP, Rambler, in March of last year. I was talking to my producer, Grady Saxman, and he suggested we do an acoustic EP of a few songs to bridge the gap between zero releases and a fully-produced EP. I liked the idea because I had some songs that didn’t make the record that were still really good that I would’ve loved to capture, and that’s why we did it. “Wishful Thinkin’” encapsulated a lot of who I am. It’s a little bit sad, but it’s a story and a real relatable thing that I felt, and I know lots of other women feel the same way. They feel the urge to change and they don’t know how, as I do in the song. We spend a lot of time creating a world for ourselves and being scared to take the first step. That’s a pretty meaningful thing for me, and that’s why I wanted to share it right out of the gate.

PC: “Wishful Thinkin’” was captured in a very bare bones way, which is a pretty vulnerable way to present music. What did you enjoy about recording and releasing the song in that way?

DR: The process was super fun. It was me, Grady and my friend, Patrick Adas, who recorded a live video of all of the songs. We did five songs that day, and I whittled it down to three that I wanted to put out. We went in there and just started having fun; I didn’t even know which songs I was going to do when I went in. I didn’t have a set-in-stone plan, we just went ahead and laid all the stuff out and saw how it would fall. Along with “Wishful Thinkin’,” the second single, which is coming out in a few weeks is called “Devil on the Blacktop,” which we refer to as “The Snake Song.” The last one will be very similar to “Wishful Thinkin’” called “Before the Summer’s Over.” I wrote “Devil on the Blacktop” with my friend Steven Schmidt, and “Before the Summer’s Over” was another solo write.

PC: What information, if any, can you give about the Rambler EP? What can people expect to hear?

DRRambler is a cool project! It’s fully-produced by Grady and Jeff Armstreet, so it’s a little bit of a different vibe from the acoustic EP, which I’m still workshopping a name for. We structured Rambler similar to the way Chris Stapleton did his Traveler record. I love Chris Stapleton; I’m very inspired by his writing and recording process. We threw everything into the mix: we have travelling songs and shuffly, lighthearted songs. “Traveling Light” is going to be the first single, which I’ve teased on TikTok a little bit. There will be five fully-produced songs, one song that’s stripped with an acoustic and steel guitar, and then one live, one take song. It’s all over the map! There’s those travelling songs, a classic ballad, and two swampy, dark, gritty songs that are really fun, almost like taking  Chris Stapleton and Lukas Nelson vibes and putting them together. I’m really stoked about these songs! They mean a lot to me, and it’s a cool body of work that tells the story of me and the way that I’ve rambled through my life. I’ve played it around for multiple people, and they say they can tell I’m from Texas when they listen to it, which I take as a compliment [laughs].

PC: You’ve been a part of writing songs that have earned over ten million streams that have spanned genres from gospel to contemporary country to pop. How much do you enjoy staying active with co-writing and hearing those different artists put their own touch on your songs?

DR: I love it! Co-writing is one of my favorite things to do. It changes the frontier of writing so much for me. Going into a room and understanding that people can make something beautiful out of absolutely nothing that’s perfectly designed to fit somebody and their career is very special to me. I stay really active in the co-writing scene; I write with other artists about four or five times a week. I’ve been staying busy with that, but I’ve also made time to write by myself too. Writing in different genres for different artists is important to keep fresh. It’s something that I really enjoy and have done consistently for the last five years.

PC: Along with your acoustic EP and Rambler, what do you have planned for 2023?

DR: I’ll be playing around here in town. I’ve got some showcases coming up too. I’m playing at Friday Night Cowboys at Live Oak on March 3. I’ll also be opening for Rachel LaRen at The Basement on March 19. I’ve been doing a bit of planning for possibly going out to Texas to do another run of shows. I’ll be doing lots of writing, and I may get back in the studio here in a little while, you never know [laughs]. I’m trying to play some full-band showcases, and getting my band put together is on the top of my priority list. I’m looking forward to the rest of the year and staying original, staying true to myself and knowing that every day I get to wake up and write songs is a blessing from God.

PC: Is there anything you’d like to add?

DR: I’m really grateful for all the opportunities that I’ve had so far, and I’m looking forward to continuing to connect with people and write stories that matter.

*”Wishful Thinkin'” is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*


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