Bright-Eyed Kelsea Ballerini Says Upcoming Album Has Elements of Darkness: “It’s About Growing Up”

Kelsea Ballerini is once again on the cusp of making country music history.

Kelsea’s first three singles—“Love Me Like You Mean It,” “Dibs” and “Peter Pan”—from her debut album, The First Time, all reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Country chart. The only other female artist to score three consecutive No. 1s on a solo debut album? Wynonna Judd in 1992.

Two sidebars to Wynonna’s accomplishments:

  1. By the time Wynonna released her self-titled debut solo album in 1992, she had been a household name for almost 10 years as part of The Judds.
  2. Unlike Kelsea, Wynonna didn’t co-write her first three singles: “She Is His Only Need,” “I Saw the Light” and “No One Else on Earth.”

I’m not trying to take anything away from Wynonna, as much as I’m trying to illustrate Kelsea’s monumental accomplishments.

Now, Kelsea’s fourth—and final—single, “Yeah Boy,” from her debut album is inching its way up the Billboard Country Airplay chart. It is currently at No. 3.

As “Yeah Boy” makes its final push up the charts toward an unprecedented fourth consecutive No. 1, Kelsea stopped by the Nash Country Daily studio to talk about her upcoming sophomore album.

Here’s everything we know about her new project—from Kelsea’s lips to your ears—as well as a couple of tidbits about her upcoming tour with Lady Antebellum and her impending nuptials to Morgan Evans.

Kelsea in studio with NCD editor Jim Casey

New Album’s Status

“We’re close to done. Yeah, I feel like everyone talks about the sophomore slump, and I was really scared. I still am. I have a lot of anxiety about it. But I have written probably 200 songs. I’ve written everything twice. I know that I have picked the songs to make the record, and it is the best record I can make. I think as long as it’s something that I would listen to, and that I’m proud of, that’s all I can do. That’s all I am in charge of.”

Album’s Theme

“It’s years 21 through 23. It really is. It starts with a gross breakup that I had. It talks about the darkness of that. I haven’t really . . . ‘Peter Pan’ is like as much of a breakup as I went into on the first record, because that’s really the only feeling of a breakup that I’d had at that point. This one definitely gets darker than that. But then it takes you through the darkness of that, the bounce back from that, into just growing up and finding who I am as a young girl. New insecurities that I have, all of that, into meeting [fiancé] Morgan [Evans] and getting engaged. It talks about all of it.”

New Songs on the Album

“Yeah, ‘High School’ [which Kelsea performed after the ACM Awards in April] will be on the new album. Absolutely. That song, I wrote that the week after my last record was done. It’s been around for a while. I wrote it by myself. It’s a super important song to me. Yeah, it’s on the record. Also, we recently played a song at the [Grand Ole] Opry called ‘I Hate Love Songs.’ I was not planning on putting it on my record, until I played it at the Opry, and the reaction was so crazy that I sent it to my label and I’m like, ‘We can’t not cut this song.’ And so I think we’re cutting it now.”

Album Release Date

“This year. That’s what I can tell you. But I think I can tell you that it will come out in maybe a couple phases. It won’t all be at once.”

Upcoming Tour With Lady Antebellum

“I got to open for Lady A a bit last year. They’re incredible. They’re really good friends too, which it’s nice to be on the road with your friends, because then . . . during the day you can all hangout and actually have chill time.”


“We’re getting married this year. I think an engagement to me is like just enough time to plan a wedding. I have a wedding planner. It’s fun to think about. When I’m done with working or whatever, it’s kind of a fun thing to look forward to.”

photos by Jason Simanek