American Idol alum Jessica Meuse releases first album.
After adding to her fan base as a contestant on the 13th season of American Idol, country music singer-songwriter Jessica Meuse is celebrating the release of her first full-length album, Halfhearted.
Released in August 2018, the record comprises 15 songs — all penned by the Alabama native — that explore themes of life, love, and loss.
With more than 3 million streams, a spot on iTunes’ Top 10 Country Albums, and 1.3 million music video streams of her single “Thank God It Didn’t Work,” Halfhearted is living up to the buzz.
Recently, we caught up with Meuse to talk about the new record.
Cowboys & Indians: Your new album, Halfhearted, reached iTunes’ Top 10 Country Albums. What has that success been like?
Jessica Meuse: The entire journey has felt very surreal. From my time performing while in college to making it on television on The Voice and then Top 4 on American Idol, to now having my debut album doing so well — it’s truly like living inside of a dream and the amount of gratitude I feel is inexplicable. It’s also motivating, because I definitely don’t want to slow down. I want to see how far I can take this, both for myself and for my amazing fans who have been there since Day 1.
C&I: What do you think your audience is getting from Halfhearted?
Meuse: I think my audience [gets] more of an idea of who I am as a person by listening to Halfhearted. The majority of the songs are written in recent years, mostly just after my time on American Idol, so I hope they convey my growth as a songwriter, musician, and person through their construction and lyrical content. I aimed to tell my story through this album and I think that’s exactly what I did!
C&I: What was the production process like for the album? Any fun stories along the way?
Meuse: The thing that stands out most about the time spent creating this album is that my team and I literally did not have a single bad day. We had the best, most enthusiastic group of people working on this album, and there was never a dull moment. I’ve never had such chemistry with fellow artists before and it just felt like it was all meant to be. We had a lot of laughs, ate a lot of junk food at odd hours, and even got into a few mojitos along the way. The final day of recording was so bittersweet because we were all so proud of what we had created but sad that it was over. The time flew by.
C&I: Are there any particular songs that you are most proud of?
Meuse: Of course I’m going to say I’m proud of all of them — each is a piece of my soul, my story, and I’m so happy with how each tune turned out. However, I’m going to mention the title track, “Halfhearted,” here because it was such a last-minute add and so different. I wrote “Halfhearted” in my apartment while I was living there, working a “real job” in 2017. I was reflecting on my life, the adversity I’ve encountered and overcome, and I thought about the people — particularly younger high-school-aged kids — who might be dealing with what I dealt with back in my high school days. I wanted to do something to tell my story about being the black sheep, being the “weirdo,” the “new kid,” and just being different and criticized for it. “Halfhearted” is the story of my life through middle and high school and even touches on a bit of life afterward toward the bridge in the song. I’m incredibly proud of this track because it’s so powerful. It says “It’s OK to be different” and that being different is actually a good thing. Whatever hardships you’re dealing with — whether it’s bullying, social awkwardness, or an internal battle against yourself — it’s okay. It’s okay to make mistakes and not deal with things correctly, so long as you do not stop being you and you strive to be the best person you can be, hence the lines “It’s about finding strength in the mess that you make / Writing your story and filling the page / The highs and the lows and the scars that you show or you hide” and “The life that you live is the life that you choose.”
C&I: What is your writing process like?
Meuse: Honestly, I have the weirdest writing style, and I think I understand it less and less the older I get. I’ve had entire songs hit me at the most inconvenient times — in the shower, driving, etc. — and I’ve had to stop whatever I was doing and record a voice note or find my guitar and write it right then and there. Other times I’m able to focus on a hook and usually write the chorus first and work outward from there.
C&I: Your new lyric video for your hit single, “Thank God It Didn’t Work,” just reached over 1 million views on Facebook. What is the story behind the song?
Meuse: “Thank God It Didn’t Work” is one of those “thank God for unanswered prayers” songs. This song was inspired by my first experience on national television back in 2012. I was in college full time, and I was also going out and performing every single night and constantly writing new songs. I was physically and emotionally exhausted, but I couldn’t stop burning the candle at both ends because I was too passionate about what I wanted to do — music. I got a call from The Voice, and I thought, This is it. I’m going to make it. This is all going to pay off! FINALLY! Long story short, not one of the judges turned around. To say it was heartbreaking doesn’t even begin to cover the intensity of the hurt I felt by that failure… but, little did I know that the very next year I would make it onto American Idol Season XIII, into the Top 4, and now I’m here. It just goes to show there’s always a bigger plan for you and it may not be the plan you have for yourself. You just have to trust it.
C&I: Why do you think the track resonates with people so much?
Meuse: It’s relatable. It’s real. It applies to so much we can go through in life, whether it’s an experience or even a relationship. We all have those dark thoughts, whether we talk about them or not.
C&I: What has been the biggest difference between performing on the Idol stage and getting to perform on your own tour?
Meuse: I think the biggest difference is that a lot more is up to me. My personal success no longer is fueled by the runoff of a television show, but is my choice. I knew that my time on the show was temporary, so I used that experience to absorb as much knowledge about the industry and build as many relationships as possible. I knew Idol was finite for me, and that once the show was over, my career was up to me and how fast I hit the ground running. It was an absolutely amazing experience, and I’m so grateful for that chapter in my life and the amazing people it led me to. But I’m also very happy with where I am now and where I see myself going!
C&I: Speaking of where you’re going, what can we expect in terms of touring?
Meuse: I promoted the album through an extensive radio tour during 2018 and we plan to carry that through 2019! I’ve also been performing at a lot more festival dates with the band across the U.S.
C&I: You’re from SlapOut (Holtville), Alabama. What are some of your favorite places to visit when you go back to your home state?
Meuse: Some of my favorite places to visit are Oak Mountain State Park and the Pelham area (for hockey games)! I like hiking and exploring outdoors, as well as trail-running, so Oak Mountain is great for that in addition to being a beautiful area. I also love to hang out around Birmingham, because that’s where a lot of my favorite venues that I grew up playing at before my reality TV experiences are, as well as many of my friends who perform and work at those venues. Also, the South has amazing food, so coming home always means I’m about to get some really good eatin’!
For more information on Jessica Meuse and her upcoming tour dates, visit her website. Buy Halfhearted on Amazon.