Former Sixpence None the Richer Singer Leigh Nash Embraces Country Music
Leigh Nash has dreamed of making a country album since she was a teenager. While it may have taken the singer-songwriter until her late 30s to accomplish that goal with the release of her new album The State I'm In, Nash says it's the beginning of a new chapter.
The former Sixpence None the Richer singer rose to fame in the '90s with Top 5 pop hits "Kiss Me" and "There She Goes." When asked what her goals were in early interviews with her pop band, she would often say to make country records. Nearly two decades later and several solo releases under her belt, she has finally accomplished that goal.
"All the time it's taken to make this record, I wouldn't trade any of the bad stuff or the sad stuff for anything," Nash tells Taste of Country with a smile, alluding to the experiences of how being a mother, going through a divorce and losing her father have made their way into her songs. "It's been worth it."
The singer raised money to fund her record through a PledgeMusic campaign. She also co-wrote all 12 of the tracks on the album, something she says was a big leap for her.
"I love to write but the issue for me is having the confidence in yourself," she admits, speaking softly.
Throughout the writing process, Nash would often question if she was capable of writing material that people would want to hear. Having grown up listening to Conway Twitty, Charley Pride, Johnny Cash and Jim Reeves, she wanted to keep their melodies and style of music alive within her album.
"The way they wrote songs, I really love it and that was my school as far as songwriting goes, by listening to those old classic songs," she adds.
Much of The State I'm In pays homage to classic country. While there are mariachi elements that reflect the Texas music Nash grew up on, there are also tracks that embody the pop songwriting and storytelling of the Beach Boys and the Everly Brothers. In fact, "What's Behind You" is a nod to the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows," a song that Nash calls the most perfect song she can think of. While the songwriting session itself began by talking about her love of the Beach Boys song, "What's Behind You" is a song about being frustrated with yourself.
"I've been in that position most of my life," she confesses. "It goes back to that vulnerability. I'm vulnerable with myself. I think some people have a hard time accepting things or owning things. I'm the first person to own a mistake. A line in the chorus is, 'How many times can I trip on something behind me.' I keep doing the same stuff that I know hurts me. It's very vulnerable, but it comes straight from the chapter out of my book."
Another song that she has had trouble performing is "Tell Me Now Tennessee," one of the most moving songs on the album that she wrote with her husband. In it, she sings, "Mama calls me everyday saying, why'd you have to move away."
"The first few times we did 'Tell Me Now Tennessee' I cried," Nash admits. "Every now and then I get a lump in my throat. I'm on Cloud 9 right now because my mom is actually here to help me with Henry, my son, during promotion time when we're on the road. On so many levels it brings my calm level down to a good place. These things in the paper I can bring it home and say, 'Look, Mama, I'm on the front of The Tennessean today.' She's very proud. She loves me though, she loves her daughter. She loves me the singer too, but she's protective of the whole person, and it's nice to have that in my house right now. No matter what happens, it's about so much more than the music business."
And the music business is not the easiest of careers to be in. Though, Nash says being in Sixpence None the Richer exposed her to a wider musical palate, as her bandmates had very different musical tastes.
"That gives me a huge rich history I wouldn't have had without that," she shares. "That pop world informed my songwriting. There's elements of pop within my songs."
So how did the transition into country music go for Leigh?
"Everyone seems nicer. The pop world is a little icy. It's a little more windows up and everyone [in country] has their windows down," she declares. "I've been treated with a lot of welcome and excitement and that makes me feel great."
The State I'm In is available everywhere. Leigh Nash's single "Doing It Wrong" is out now.
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