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Five Things We Want to See On Lauren Watkins’s Debut Album

Lauren Watkins
Via Facebook

Nashville-born Lauren Watkins is set to release her first complete album, The Heartbroken Record, on June 21st. It looks to be a pivotal release for the captivating 24-year-old, building on her first project Introducing: Lauren Watkins. Watkins made compelling artistic statements with her double-whammy debuts that included the popular singles “Shirley Temple” and “Anybody But You,” and fans are hoping for more of her emotional, “not-trying-too-hard” sound. Watkins signed with Big Loud Records/Songs & Daughters in 2023, and opened a few shows with Morgan Wallen for his “One Night At A Time Tour.” If Watkins’s previously-released singles and social media teases share any indication of what to expect from The Heartbroken Record, fans are in for a genuine, heartfelt, and fun treat. 

Leaning into the Messy Girl Aesthetic 

It’s a compliment: being “messy” has never been so cool. Watkin’s perfectly careless. yet incredibly refined, sound embodies this trendy aesthetic in the most country way possible. Isn’t that what country music is about? Unapologetic authenticity. It can’t be bought, and it can’t be learned, but you know it when you hear it. Watkins will hopefully stay faithful to, and expand on, upbeat, honest themes like on “Mama, I Made It” and “Sleeping in My Makeup.” If the album’s tracklist is any indication, fans won’t be disappointed by incendiary song titles like “Pretend You’re Coming Home” and “Burn the Bridge.” With Watkins’s album being released in a summer that includes Maddie and Tae’s “Sad Girl Summer” and Megan Moroney’s “Man on the Moon,” Watkins should fit squarely into this “messy girl” summer vibe. She could very well become the leader of the party.

Cohesive, Metaphorical Songwriting 

While many of Watkins’s songs tell stories of a messy, silly, or complicated life while chasing her honkytonk dreams, Watkins’s lyricism is about as cohesive and streamlined as it gets. Her debut single, “Shirley Temple” is one big metaphor comparing an incompatible relationship to a virgin drink. It could have been executed poorly and tackily, yet Watkins (and co-writers Joey Moi and Nicolle Galyon) constructed smooth melodies and incisive lyrics that makes the song feel raw and thoughtful to the listener. “Ole Miss” also cleverly weaves old-timey country lyricism with modern-day frustrations without giving the impression that she’s working too hard to mirror “old” country music. If she remains true to country parallels, continues to avoid clichés, and takes it further than musings about cigarettes, college, and relationships gone awry, this album will stand the test of time. 

More Vocal Challenges  

In Watkins’s previous works, her output has always come across as soft and effortless. From Instagram teases of unreleased songs expected to be on The Heartbroken Record, listeners can expect Lauren Watkins to play the “barstool casual” with more subdued vocal deliveries. Still, it would be exciting to hear Watkins push the envelope more with some technically challenging vocal melodies. With the grit she emits in her songwriting and stage presence, she surely can rise to the occasion for this pivotal album and stretch her vocal capabilities beyond what we’ve heard so far. Watkins is smack dab in the middle of an exciting, increasingly crowded field of incredibly talented new female artists, including Danielle Bradbery, Ella Langley, Mackenzie Carpenter, and Dasha. She is on the precipice of taking the lead with this album but will need to take this jump to stand out.

A Country-Pop Anthem 

We’ve heard soothing waltzes like “Cowboys on Music Row” with Carter Faith, and her duets with Jake Worthington and Graham Barham both serve heartbroken, “pissed off” vibes. However, an unreleased song titled “Set My Heart on Fire” with Sheryl Crow will hopefully bring the party in ways she hasn’t to date. If elements of “Soak Up The Sun” and “All I Wanna Do” sneak their way into Watkins’s sound, listeners are in for a much-needed, summer country bop from the characteristically melancholy artist. While Watkins’s essential laidback country sound is what we love, fans surely wouldn’t mind something we can dance to; besides, who better to inject some upbeat energy than Sheryl Crow?

A Sappy Love Song 

While few new artists can produce a sad song, and Watkins and her “messy” tunes have amassed attention, a sappy, pour-your-heart-out love song would be a fantastic twist. While the album title alludes to, well… heartbreak… maybe coming off right off her May 28 wedding day, a little love will be sprinkled in. Listeners haven’t heard a true love song from Watkins to date, and something like Kacey Musgraves’s “Golden Hour” is easy to imagine. Watkins would surely nail a forgiving, effortless lullaby of a love song. 

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