*Proof of COVID vaccination or negative COVID test required for entry. Details here*Hailey Whitters
Hailey Whitters was closing in on her first decade in Nashville, that mythologized milestone when artists are supposed to finally start reaping the fruits of their labor. But despite 10 years of hard work, the singer-songwriter still hadn't had her breakout moment and, fed up with pushing the boulder uphill, she took a step back to reassess.
"I hit my 'fuck it' point," says Hailey. I felt like I was watering myself down to try and fit in with what this town was doing, and I was looking for Nashville to define my happiness. When I quit doing that I was able to dig into why I am on this journey in the first place: to create music that I love on my own terms. And that's when I wrote 'Ten Year Town.'"
At that moment, the native of Shueyville, Iowa, matured into the artist she was supposed to be: a probing, fearless songwriter who is more concerned with the busted and broken way things are than the pretty and polished way things are painted to be.
"Everything is so glossy and so perfect in society," she says, "especially for women, who are getting fillers and changing our face shape. Every single thing is so tweaked to perfection that it's boring. I'm craving something that is raw, real and imperfect."
"This is the first record that feels 100 percent me. It's a time capsule of my time in Nashville and coming to terms with dreams and what they mean to you," says Hailey, who fully funded the project herself. Along with waiting tables, she sold a guitar and dipped into her savings, money that she had made from touring and stashed away. She also leaned heavily on royalties she received from writing songs for other artists, like Alan Jackson, Martina McBride and Little Big Town, who cut her "Happy People." (Hailey's ebullient version appears on "The Dream.") With money secured, she turned to BMG's Jake Gear to produce the album and Logan Matheny to engineer and mix.
Taken as a whole, The Dream is a collection of 12 tracks, all but two — renditions of Chris Stapleton's "The Devil Always Made Me Think Twice" and Brent Cobb's "Loose Strings" — written by Hailey and a roster of A-list women collaborators including Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey, Nicolle Galyon and Brandy Clark. She sings of getting day drunk to medicate a heartbreak in "Red, Wine & Blue"; taps into an Eighties Jackson Browne vibe on the marvelous "Dream, Girl"; and romanticizes her Midwest upbringing in the swooning "Heartland." Elsewhere, she inhabits a tough but secretly vulnerable character in "All the Cool Girls"; laments the worst kind of person to date in "The Faker"; and shares second-hand life lessons in the stunning "Janice at the Hotel Bar," written with McKenna.
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