Chelsey Carter Releases New Bachelorette Anthem, “Saddlin’ Up”

Chelsey Carter has a way of marching to the beat of her own drum with both her music and her everyday life, and she’s proven both with her new single, “Saddlin’ Up.”

At a time in her life where she’s seeing peers putting rings on their fingers, Carter unashamedly sings about moving at her own pace and keeping music as her first love, all the while, offering a sonic shift from the classic country sound she introduced herself with in 2017 to a more rock-infused sound that allows her to put her superb guitar chops on full display, as she does with an Eagles-inspired Telecaster solo on her newest effort.

We caught up with Carter to talk all about “Saddlin’ Up,” as well as growth, how Covid affected her release strategy, new music and more!

Pro Country: The last time we talked, you had just launched a Kickstarter campaign for the funding of recording an EP, which was later fully-funded. What did it mean to you to tangibly see the support the campaign received and to know that so many people were interested in hearing your music?

Chelsey Carter: It was absolutely surreal! As an artist, you never create art with the expectation that people will care about it; you create it for yourself and hope that maybe someone else will be able to relate. The fact that my music resonated with enough people to raise thousands of dollars and fund a second EP kickstarted (no pun intended) a white knuckle ride to provide the best EP that I possibly could, and I’m so excited to finally get to share it with the world!

PC: Your Kickstarter campaign also mentioned artistic growth from your debut EP, Nothin’ Better to Do. Now six years removed from that project, how do you look back on it and how do you feel you’ve grown as an artist in that time?

CC: For starters, I’ve really started to hone in on my sound. My first EP was very much classic country, whereas my current sound definitely has a bit more of a rock flair to it. Nothin’ Better To Do was written and released while I was still living in Massachusetts, whereas this new batch of songs were all written after I moved to Nashville, where I really polished my songwriting skills, and you can hear a big difference. These tracks on my new EP are sassy, confident, emotional and honest. 

PC: Just as your Kickstarter campaign hit its goal, Covid kicked in and largely put a stop to the touring and recording sides of music. What was it like for you to have to press pause in the midst of the EP’s process and have to hold on to it a bit longer?

CC: Covid was a tough time for all of us, and for me, it honestly felt like a walking nightmare. I had been so focused and had so much momentum with the release that when everything came to a stop, it was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Our EP release strategy was largely based around touring, which obviously wasn’t happening, so I made the tough decision to postpone the release of my songs to the public. I did my best to keep my Kickstarter contributors in the loop with what was happening, but I was still wrestling with a lot of guilt about the timeline I had given on Kickstarter for when things would be finished and released. Once we were able to re-evaluate our release strategy, I sent out CDs of the EP to everyone who contributed to my Kickstarter, so they all got an early preview of what was to come. I still carry a LOT of guilt around the delay, but I try to remind myself that sometimes when things don’t go according to plan, it’s because there’s a better plan on its way. There are a lot of things brewing with this release, and I don’t know that the same doors would have been open if I was able to stick to the original timeline.   

PC: You released the first song from your EP, “I Can’t Be Trusted,” in July of last year. Having come five years after Nothin’ Better to Do, what emotions were you feeling as you were putting music out again and showcasing your new musical chapter for the first time?

CC: It’s an awkward mix of excitement and terror. It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve also grown a lot as an artist since my first EP, so stylistically, things are a bit different, and as with any type of change, you’re never quite sure what the response will be.

PC: Why did you feel that your newest single, “Saddlin’ Up,” was the right follow up to “I Can’t Be Trusted”?

CC: I’m at a point in my life where everyone seems to be making the same moves in life, and I find that I have to put a lot of energy into reminding myself that what’s right for other people isn’t necessarily what’s right for me. Everyone is on their own timeline, and even if it seems like you’re the only one not doing something, it might mean that you’re not meant to do that thing right now. Both of these songs touch on how my life might not be “normal” for most people, but it’s what’s normal for me. 

PC: You’ve called “Saddlin’ Up” a “bachelorette anthem” on social media. Can you take us in the room and talk about how the song came together?

CC: I came up with the idea for “Saddlin’ Up” when I reached that point in my life where all my peers were starting to get married and settle down. While I loved that idea for them, it created a lot of confusion in my head as to whether or not I should be doing the same things they were. It seemed that everyone around me was focused on getting or giving a ring and slowing down, whereas I was more focused on my music career. I realized that the “should” thoughts in life are the ones that will kill you, and that what’s best for you might not be what’s best for everyone else. It was then that I knew I was destined to write an anthem for the forever bridesmaids like me who are “Saddlin’ Up” while everyone else seems to be settlin’ down. 

I had the chorus written for YEARS, but could never find verses that I liked. There’s probably about 60 different versions in my notebook that didn’t make the cut. So after many failed attempts,  I decided to call in some friends to help me bring this song to life. Chris Housman, Emily Kroll and I were able to hammer out the verses, and as they say, “the rest is history.”

PC: You have three more unreleased songs from your EP. What information, if any, can you give about their releases? What can people expect to hear?

CC: It’s more of the same, but completely different, which I know gives you whiplash to read, but all these tracks on this EP are a perfect depiction of my life: you sort of know what to expect, but you’re always a little bit surprised by what you actually get. In these remaining three unreleased tracks, I touch back on my dating life, my home, and while it’s uncharacteristic for me, there’s even a love song. 

PC: You have a pretty busy performance schedule split between Nashville and Massachusetts-area shows. How much are you looking forward to staying active on the road and bring this new music to the stage?

CC: You always hear people say to do what makes you happy, and I’m happiest when I’m on stage. My schedule is super busy, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Covid really did a number on being able to tour, so recently, I’ve been playing as much as I can in the two places I call home (New England and Nashville), with a few shows in other spots throughout the country. However, that won’t be the case for 2023-2024, because the roadblock has cleared, and we’re taking the show back on the road!

PC: What do you have planned for the rest of 2023?

CC: I have lots of exciting things planned, stay tuned!

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

CC: I would like to take the opportunity to thank my Kickstarter contributors and everyone else who has been supportive along the way. Y’all are rockstars, and I can’t wait to keep this momentum going!

*”Saddlin’ Up” is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*


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