Interview: Lauren Alaina Finds Her Hope Again With New Album, ‘Sitting Pretty on Top of the World’
By the time 2021 comes to a close, Lauren Alaina will have released a creative trifecta of sorts: an album, a book and a Hallmark movie. Despite a global pandemic — or rather, because of it — she's been busy.
“It was an emotional time, and what I usually do with my emotions is turn them into art,” Alaina explains in a recent interview. “With the pandemic and everything, I stopped for the first time in 10 years. I never would have had enough time to do all three of those projects in such a short time span, but because I was home consistently, I was able to reconnect with myself in a way that I hadn't been able to for so long.
"I was able," she adds, "to more fully process my entire story.”
In many ways, the multi-platinum-selling singer-songwriter's story is still beginning. After all, she's only 26 years old.
“I turned 25 and I was like, 'Oh, crap, I'm a woman,'" Alaina recalls with a laugh. “'I'm a grownup. I'm an adult. I have a house. I've got a dog. What is going on here?’"
While Alaina’s critically acclaimed sophomore album, 2017's Road Less Traveled, was about becoming a woman, her new album, Sitting Pretty on Top of the World (out Friday (Sept. 3)) is about being that woman amid the ups and downs of life. Listeners hear Alaina's authentic and truthful voice throughout; she co-wrote 14 of its 15 songs.
“It’s about going through heartbreak and overcoming it and getting back to a place of hope for the future,” says Alaina. “And I am in that place now.”
It’s a sensitive topic that Alaina hits squarely and honestly with the album cut “On Top of the World,” a song that speaks of hitting rock bottom but still finding a way to "sit pretty" through it all.
“It’s about putting on a façade that you're okay when you know you are not,” says Alaina of the song, which she wrote alongside Jordan Reynolds and Sasha Sloan. ”You're going out and putting on a brave face, but inside, you feel like you're breaking. And much of the last two years, I have felt that way.”
Indeed, Alaina has been through it in recent years. She's endured two public breakups, mourned the death of her stepfather and struggled with depression.
“I am the happy-go-lucky girl, but there is more to me than that,” says Alaina, noting that she is now "getting into a more healthy, emotional place."
“I've been the bad guy and I've been with the bad guy. And now, I’m getting to a place of healing," the singer continues. "And I think if there's anything the world needs right now, it's a little bit of healing.”
It’s this healing that Alaina delves into in the truthful “It Was Me,” an admission of past mistakes within her seven-year relationship with her now-ex-fiancé, Alex Hopkins. “It's my favorite song I've ever written down, and, yes, it's about him,” she says of the song, which she co-wrote with Hillary Lindsey.
“This was my song for him. And it's really just about being honest and saying, ‘It’s not that I didn't love you … I just didn't love myself,'" Alaina explains. "Plus, I wasn't in a place in my life that I was ready for ‘forever.’ I didn't know myself enough back then.
"It's kind of something that I just wanted to say to him, because he's not a bad guy. He's just not my guy," she adds. "I felt like that, in a way, we both deserved this song.”
Alaina has often spoken of her strong faith, but she's the first to admit that having faith isn’t as easy when the world seems to be falling down around you.
“We all fall short of what we want to be and what we should be,” says the Georgia native, who will go further into her faith journey in her new book, Getting Good at Being You (due out on Nov. 23). “I fall short all the time, but it’s about getting to a place of truly believing He's there, even when I can't feel Him or I am too drowned out in my own emotions to let Him be with me.
"It’s something I’m working on," she adds, "that’s for sure.”