Kelsea Ballerini is blowing up right now. You can’t turn on the radio or any country music tv without hearing her name or single, Love Me Like You Mean It. Her debut album, The First Time, came out just a a few weeks ago and I’ve had it on repeat ever since. There’s no deny that The First Time can’t even begin to call itself a traditional country album. In fact, Kelsea has taken the spot that Taylor Swift left behind when she decided to go strictly pop. Creating just enough country on a pop album to still be able to integrate herself into the genre. And the thing is… I’m not mad about.
Kelsea comes out on top with this album, presenting herself as a major player in a world full of men singing about baseball caps, trucks, and taking girls down to the river in the moonlight. She can hold her own on country radio, but she doesn’t even begin to dumb herself down. Her songwriting is thoughtful, smart, and basically on point for any girl in this world (and maybe even some guys).The reason this album has been on a consistent rotation for me is because I keep finding these brilliant lyrical moments that dig in deep. I can’t stop STUDYING it. It makes me so happy to hear a female on the radio who can not only turn out a catchy, fun hit single, but can also get super real. These are the five songs that should make you run out and buy The First Time.
1. Peter Pan (Ballerini, Forest Glen Whitehead, Jesse Lee)
If you’ve ever fallen for the guy that was all charm and charisma, but couldn’t keep his attention focused on any one thing, constantly running away from relationships and life to experience something different; this one will get you. Kelsea takes one of our most well known childhood literary figures and paints a picture of so many men that we’ve met in our lives. She brings him to life, in current time, putting into words the struggle he has with being able to take the reigns of responsibility and love. The track is almost heartbreaking, both for the Peter Pan’s in our life, and those of us that fall in love with those beautiful star chasers.
Always gonna fly away, just because you know you can. You’re never gonna learn there’s no such thing as a Neverland. You’ll never grow up, you’re never gonna be a man, Peter Pan.
2. First Time (Ballerini)
Girls, we’ve all been here. That’s what’s so incredibly hard about listening to the lyrics in this song. It’s that guy we’ve gone out on the line for and he just can’t see it, tripping over himself to make sure we walk away feeling lonelier than ever. This is a lesson in learning to let go of what you know isn’t good for you, but instead you find yourself going back and tracing the same footsteps that led you to that disaster in the first place. If you ever feel like packing up and running into the arms of a man that doesn’t respect your love and time the way that he should, turn this on and remind yourself that there’s a reason you said goodbye the first time.
Even when you don’t have me, you can still be the one to hurt me. It must feel good to know that I’m still holding on to letting go. And that’s why the past should be the past, far behind, back of mind, out of the way. Let the memories burn and crash, ’cause sitting here looking at the driveway is just tearing my heart back in half, like nothings changed except the time that’s past. And that’s why goodbye should mean goodbye, the first time.
3. Secondhand Smoke (Ballerini, Whitehead, Jennifer Denmark)
Some of us come from broken families. Hell, maybe in some way all of us do. Some of us carry around the burden of our families history with us into every relationship and moment of our lives. Being constantly afraid of making the same mistakes, of not being able to make a relationship last, of falling victim to some of the issues we’ve seen our loved ones struggle with. In a truly beautiful way, Kelsea brings that fear and struggle to life with some inspiring, heartbreaking, and raw words we can all understand. The very first time this song came on I was blown away by the honesty, how unbelievably real it is, and I’m telling you now it is a must listen.
Am I the product of a problem that I couldn’t change? Got his eyes, got her hair, so do I get their mistakes? I know that you can’t walk across a bridge that’s already burned so what am I supposed to do. I can’t help that I chose to breathe it in, but I don’t want to choke on the secondhand smoke… Will I be better, find forever, be the one to shake the habit? Break away from broken things and rise above the ashes.
4. Dibs (Ballerini, Kerr, Ryan Griffin, Jason Duke)
I’ve had this conversation with friends; we don’t understand how it’s possible that no one has written a song about calling dibs on a boy before. Kelsea and team literally took something we all used to do as children and turned it into a way to grab the available man of our dreams. We all know how to call it, we all respect the dibs, and here we are bobbing our head to this ridiculously catchy song that I fell in love with the first time she performed it. Not only should this be the next single (HELLO, PLEASE), but it will make you dance your heart out, for sure.
If you’ve got a Friday night free and shotgun seat, well, I’m just saying I ain’t got nowhere to be. So baby I’ll take whatever it is you’ve got to give, yeah, I’m calling dibs. On your lips, on your kiss, on your time. Boy, I’m calling dibs.
5. Stilettos (Ballerini, Whitehead, Kevin Savigar)
In another ridiculously good use of words, Kelsea likens the pain of running into your ex with a new girl to wearing stilettos. Hiding the pain you’re in to keep your pride and keep them from knowing that they’ve chipped off a little piece of your heart. Frankly, I think this is so smart. Her and her songwriting team have a way of taking every day things and tying them in to some seriously intense emotions. They do this in a way that is so relatable, smart, and surprising.
A little black dress to cover my mess so you won’t know my heart is breaking.I threw myself together from the fallout of forever, for everyone to see. You don’t get to get to me. I wear my pain like stilettos, as bad as it may hurt no, you’ll never known. I keep walking with my head up putting on a show and fronting like nothing is wrong.
It’s moments like these that make The First Time a must buy album. Head on over to iTunes and pick it up now of you haven’t already.
What’s your favorite song on The First Time? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @JukeboxMixtape!