NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Singer Elle King has never fit neatly into any one box. Her early years were split between Ohio, New York City and Los Angeles and her rock music was always banjo-based, with elements of bluegrass, rockabilly and country pulling at the seams.
Now raising her young son in Nashville, King is releasing her third album — a country album through a country music label — that is fully connecting all the colorful threads of her life. It releases Friday.
“Now as a resident and living here, Nashville and country music unfolds more and more layers for me,” said King during an interview backstage at the Ryman Auditorium.
She named the new record, “Come Get Your Wife,” after a snide comment a man made about her to her fiancé, but instead of getting angry, she got inspired.
The heavily tattooed singer-songwriter with the bluesy voice has spent years trying to figure out where she fits in musically after breaking out with her hit “Ex's and Oh's” but motherhood has given her perspective and some peace of mind. She’s had No. 1 hits on four different Billboard formats, including pop, alternative and country, but right now she’s just happy putting all her eggs in this country basket.
Her duet with country star Dierks Bentley, “Different For Girls” in 2016, began her journey into country music, eventually winning her a Country Music Association Award. Now she’s a regular on the country awards shows, gone out on tour with Chris Stapleton and Miranda Lambert and her single, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” with Lambert was nominated for a Grammy last year.
“It’s like everything was thrown into a melting pot to make this country album that is all encompassing of all of the things that I love, which is soulful blues, southern rock and roll, funny country music,” said King.
She wrote eight of the dozen songs on the record, which starts with King's ode to her home state, “Ohio,” and touches on her faith and motherhood alongside comical songs. “Try Jesus” is King’s humorous take on coming back to her religious roots and it gave her a great excuse to add a gospel choir on the track.
“I did grow up with a very strong faith,” said King. “I also had a wild rollercoaster of life. When I became a mother, I started thinking, ‘How do I teach him right and wrong?’”
King’s son Lucky was born in 2021 after losing two pregnancies. That experience inspired the emotional song “Lucky” as she reflects on gratitude. She called it her most vulnerable song on the record.
“It’s really strange because so many people go through it, and it’s not something that is talked about comfortably,” she said of her pregnancy losses.
Producer and songwriter Ross Copperman, who co-produced the album with King, said the singer's son was in the studio during the recording of “Lucky,” and his baby giggles close out the song.
“They were holding him outside of the vocal booth while she was singing it,” Copperman recalled. “She was looking into his eyes that whole vocal. It was the most beautiful moment I’ve ever seen in the studio.”
King says becoming a mother was transformative for her.
“The change that he has brought in me, and the fuel and the fire that he lit in me to become the person that I never thought I could be, or the happiness and the joy that I have in my life I never knew could even be attainable, all came and started with him,” said King.
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Kristin M. Hall, The Associated Press