Hailey Whitters 'Raised' Album Review

After her breakout record, The Dream and its deluxe version, Living The Dream, Big Loud recording artist Hailey Whitters has certainly made a name for herself. The Dream LP is what it sounds like: its wistful yet determined as Whitters sings about chasing her dreams and making a name for herself in Nashville. After reaching new heights over the past two years, Whitters turns inwards and connects with her beginnings in her third record, Raised, with a headstrong nature paralleled with sharp and giddy nostalgia.

Raised begins with an instrumental piece titled “Ad Astra Per Alas Porci” which translates “to the stars on the wings of a pig:” in the biography for the record, it’s stated that this is Whitters’ motto. The grandiose orchestral sounds are a unique start for the project, but it makes it stand out immediately. It transports the audience to a space and time separate from reality.

The title track plays after the opener. “Raised,” which seems to act as a clear dedication to Whitters’ hometown of Shueyville, Iowa, plays out with a delicate acoustic guitar, sprightly percussion, and a steel guitar that can be heard in the background. The chorus comes in fast with an autobiographical notion as Whitters sings, “I can’t help that I’m this way / My heart goes wild / And that won’t change / If I take this love right to my grave / It’s cause I fall how I was raised.” There’s also overt metaphors that create amazing lyricism as Whitters compares her headstrong nature to black coffee and she signifies that her hands that some else gets to hold, are as worthy as gold. There’s a sugary confidence to “Raised” that certainly sets the tone for the rest of the very personal and in-depth record.

The lead single “Everything She Ain’t” is reminiscent of early material from The Chicks. It continues the conviction that the title track starts. The handclaps scattered throughout the instrumental make it a fun listening experience. On track five, Whitters teams up with the band American Aquarium for “Middle Of America '' to mesh classic country with hints of earthy rock and roll. The lyrics, written by Whitters and Bobby Pinson detail life of midwestern America which is quite fitting as Whitters hails from Iowa. The catch chorus explodes with the lines, “Woah, a bunch of patchwork dreamers / Tryin’ to hold onto the only life they know / A bunch of better believers / Never leavin’ even when they go / They ain’t left, they ain’t right / They’re just left right in the middle of America.”

In “College Town,” Whitters explores the idea of leaving a small town and finding independence in both thoughts and actions. Through every detailed verse, it proves itself as the epitome of a storytelling song; it’s the kind of writing that sets Whitters apart from her peers, it’s simply told yet deeply personal. There’s almost a charming sense to the penmanship as Whitters perfectly captures the attitude of a young woman coming into her own. She states, “She’ll come home for Christmas and cut off her hair / Got a whole new opinion her parents don’t share / They’ll put her in her place, they’ll put her feet on the ground / She’s on the first two lane back to that college town."

Tracks 11 and 12 showcase a darker, slower side of Raised. On “Pretty Boy,” the only piano-based song on the LP is a remarkable addition. Just like in “Janice At The Hotel Bar” from her previous album, Whitters tackles a narrative that isn’t her own. She sings about the hyper masculinity placed on men where she comes from and how they don’t feel they can show vulnerability. In the bridge, Whitters exclaims, “They say it’s a negative / That you’re sensitive / But mama always said that that’s a positive.” “The Neon,” written by Whitters, Lori McKenna, and Rodney Clawson, is a moody, dark tune that pulses like a regretful night out after a detrimental breakup. The lyrics are ultra descriptive and vivid with a clear color palette as she sings, “Here comes the neon / Here comes the sad part / Salt on my wounds / Some blue on my broken heart / The stars we strung our dreams on / We shot ‘em all out one by one / I’m turnin’ off this porch light / I always said I’d leave on.”

There’s really no track that entails the idea of “home,” a theme so prominent on the record, more than the second to last track, “In A Field Somewhere.” With its twangy, ebullient production, Whitters sings about her midwestern roots and the things she has learned in the middle of nowhere. She strings together lines that read like a real-good coming of age story. “It’s where I learned my lessons / It’s where I earned my stripes / Got a full ride education underneath them half moon nights / With a cold one in my hand, kicked back in a lawn chair / Life is good in a field somewhere.” The energetic ditty takes a turn and feels full-circle towards the end when Whitters declares, “In a field somewhere where the sun shines like gold / Let my soul untether where the wild green grasses grow / And when my time runs out don’t just put me anywhere / Lay me down in a field somewhere.”

To hear more of country music’s best new releases, head to our Playlists Page and follow The Nash New Releases playlist on Spotify. For the latest in country music news follow The Nash News on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok, and don’t miss our brand new newsletter!

Weekly Writers Rounds

Trending News