You can't accuse 20-year-old singer-songwriter Alana Springsteen of false advertising over the title of her new EP, History of Breaking Up (Part One). Every song chronicles a romantic downfall with heartfelt lyrics and creative twists. For instance, "God Must Be Mad at Me" incorporates Springsteen's personal faith journey, while Walker Hayes co-write "Zero Trucks" favors humor over sorrow without sacrificing sincerity.
The former's informed by Springsteen's Southern Baptist upbringing and her early exposure to the church hymnal.
"So I grew up in Virginia Beach, and both of my granddads are actually pastors," Springsteen told Wide Open Country. "That's kind of where I found my first love of music. Literally from when I was like 4 and 5 years old, it would be Sunday morning and I'd jump up and sing a hymn."
Singing timeless gospel songs alongside her family taught Springsteen skills she utilizes today as one of Nashville's rising country stars.
"My dad would sit next to me in church," she recalled. "He's always been a great singer, but he sings harmony. Now I can pick it up in a heartbeat, honestly because of that. Because of hearing it from such a young age and learning it."
As its title telegraphs, "God Must Be Mad at Me" finds Springsteen wrestling the sort of self-doubt as a Christian that even the saints in the scriptures encountered on this side of eternity. It's not all doom and gloom though, as setbacks of spiritual and romantic sorts often give way to promises like the one in Psalm 30:5-- "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
"I think we've all been in that place where it feels like everything is against us, and things don't turn out the way you think they're meant to," Springsteen said. "Automatically you start to question yourself. It's one of the hardest places to be when something is just out of your control. For me, it just brings it back to everything happens for a reason. I've always believed that, and I truly believe whether it's a high or whether it's a low, it all makes you stronger in the end."
Springsteen pours her heart out across the EP, to reckon with her own past and to provide listeners with the sense of empathy she's come to expect from her favorite songwriters.
"We all deal with self-doubt and insecurities," she said. "In a way, me writing songs about it is kind of my therapy, and also it helps us feel less alone. There's songs I listen to where I'm like, 'Okay, I'm not the only one going through this.' There's such a sense of connection and belonging that comes with that, and I hope my music does the same thing."
Six of the EP's seven songs bluntly and vulnerably address breakups, from "California's" theme of a long-distance relationship gone sour to the even more gut-wrenching "Girlfriend," which concedes that the other woman's "the one" for an otherwise ideal partner. Then there's the final track on the EP: "Zero Trucks," which brings some needed levity to the party by turning a country cliche on its head.
"I can't listen to that song and not smile, and honestly that's why I wanted it on this EP," Springsteen said. "There's a lot of heavy emotions addressed in all of this, but I love that there's a song on there that addresses that sometimes you break up and realize how much better you are without that person in your life. It doesn't have to always be this sad, heartbreak moment."
Springsteen co-wrote "Zero Trucks" on Zoom with Joe Clemmons and future Applebee's hype man Hayes.
"For some reason, this song just felt like me," Springsteen said. "I've never gravitated toward these tongue-in-cheek-type songs, but it (just) felt so right. I love playing this song live, and I love listening to it. It makes me happy. Even if people are going through the middle of a breakup, maybe this song will show them that there are positive sides to breakups. Sometimes it means getting back to you and the things that make you the happiest and the people that love you the most."
History of Breaking Up (Part One) Tracklist
3. "Trying Not To" (Featuring Roman Alexander)
4. "God Must Be Mad at Me"
6. "I Blame You"
7. "Zero Trucks"