Kelsea Ballerini is learning to love the chaos in her life – and she’s showing fans that it’s okay not to always have it together.
Prior to the release of her fourth studio album Subject to changeBallerini told PEOPLE about the “beauty” and “junk” in her search for the soul that inspired the record.
“It’s really my project after the pandemic. Like everyone in the world, I had to sit in silence and I’m not good at that,” the 29-year-old singer tells PEOPLE. “I like being in full sprint all the time, working and playing shows and making records. And that wasn’t an option. At that time I kind of woke up and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m not 19 more . That’s strange.’ And I have a lot of life to process and a lot of time to do it.”
She continues, “I think in that unraveling of all these beautiful, amazing experiences I’ve had over the years in my career and my personal life…it really unlocked this honesty and more than the honesty, the guts to go there in a certain way. And I think that’s been heard throughout the project.”
The album contains 15 songs, including her previously released singles “Heartfirst”, “The Little Things” and “Love Is a Cowboy”. As a whole, the album is intended to take its listeners on a journey and make them feel ‘seen’.
“I really want there to be something for everyone, which I know is a cliché term, but if you just grow up and experience the beauty of that, there’s something for you. The messiness of that, there’s a lot for you,” she say. “When you experience love, there is something for you. When you experience turmoil, there is something for you and everything in between. It’s really a lot of self-discovery. And in that, there’s a lot of juxtaposition of dark and light on the journey it takes you. ”
And while every song is written with love and care, Ballerini is especially excited about the first thing she wrote for the album, entitled “Marilyn” – which happens to be out on the same day. blond premieres on Netflix.
“It was the summer of 2020 and I just used her as a metaphor for someone who presents quirkiness, is beautiful, confident and balanced, but has many layers,” explains the “I Quit Drinking” singer. “I just feel like we’re all getting internet fame and [are] in this weird state of the world, we all have a lot to do with that character. I sure do. And I really put my heart into that song. And it’s ironically for me, the only sad song on the record.”
Similarly, Ballerini – who recently filed for divorce from singer Morgan Evans – shared a vulnerable video on social media with her fans earlier this month. The singer remembers the post and says she is committed to being transparent about all aspects of her life.
“I’ve just always felt like I wanted to show all sides of my life, and sometimes that’s really complicated to do because I’m a human being trying to navigate a lot of things. And I’m also going into a promo time where I’m promoting this record that I’m really proud of, but I also experience a lot,” she says.
She adds, “I just feel it’s my responsibility as someone that people look up to and little girls look up to to show all sides of the human condition and all sides of being an adult, who experiences life as it is. And I’m happy on days when I’m happy and I’m sad on days when I’m sad. And I just want to feel that as it comes.”
The main way she processes those feelings is through writing her songs – something she learned when she was 12 years old and her parents got divorced.
“The catalyst for music for me was that separation, and through every season of my life, and growing up in change and celebration and everything, it’s how I’ve processed my feelings. And I think this album is a real processing album. ”
To celebrate the release, Ballerini is kicking off her 10-day Heartfirst tour in New York City on Saturday — and she’s sure she won’t burst into tears of joy. After stops in major cities, the tour ends in Mashantucket, Connecticut.
Subject to change is out now.