In late 2019, country singer-songwriter Kalie Shorr chronicled one of the most challenging years of her life on the critically-acclaimed debut album Open Book.
"I wrote it about the worst year of my life. So I was definitely not in the best place when I wrote it or released it," Shorr tells Wide Open Country. "It gave me a very welcome distraction, but it also gave me a lot of validation at a time where I was doubting myself more than ever. Having the journalism community really just understand it and support it and help get it out there in the most grassroots way possible -- that was really amazing and gave me a lot of confidence and self-assurance that I had needed. So that made a huge difference. Also, just feeling less alone in my feelings. When you put a song out in the world and you hear what people think about it and how they relate to it and just knowing that there were so many people who'd gone through the same things I had and they were still standing and they had gone past it -- it was just really encouraging."
A few months after the release of the album, which was named one of The New York Times' best albums of 2019, venues across the country shut down due to COVID-19. (Shorr herself tested positive and recovered from the virus.) Though the pandemic has been devastating to everyone in the music industry, Shorr included, the Portland, Maine-raised artist found a way to connect with her fans. She launched her own podcast, Too Much to Say with Kalie Shorr (an iHeart podcast executive produced by nationally syndicated radio host Bobby Bones) and the grassroots success of Open Book led to Shorr signing a record deal with New York-based TMWRK Records. Now, the artist is expanding on Open Book with Open Book: Unabridged, which features new tracks, including "Lying to Myself," a seamless blend of her pop-punk and country roots.
Shorr, a member of CMT Next Women of Country's class of 2018, says "Lying to Myself" was written about the collapse of a relationship that occurred during a stay in Los Angeles.
"I had been out in L.A. a lot over the past two years. I was back and forth like every month before [coronavirus] hit. I really miss being out there. It's such a great place. I was writing out there with two really good friends that I met -- Cora Jane Sugarman and Elias Abid. We were in a pool house at the house I stay at in LA. It was really late at night and I think we'd already written something that day. I had been kind of seeing this guy out there and it ended and I was just processing it while we were writing the song. They already knew all about it. Cora had been out with me when I got the text from him," Shorr says. "It felt like I was writing a diary entry with two other people helping me out. It was a really cool write. I was definitely pretty tired and I think we were drinking wine. So it was a very fluid write. I feel like I was a little less concerned with everything being super tight and commercial and whatnot. I was kind of just playing these guitar parts... I think you can tell how sort of airy the whole thing is."
After completely self-financing Open Book, Shorr says releasing Open Book Unabridged with the support of her new label is an opportunity to share new stories with listeners.
"It feels like I got a second try at releasing it the way I wanted to," Shorr says. "It feels so freaking good to watch that happen, but I wanted to make sure there was new music on there too and it wasn't just a re-release of the same thing. I wanted to release some songs and let people kind of know where I'm at through the lyrics. I'm really excited about these songs. They tell different parts of the story that didn't really get told in Open Book and it's very chronological. These all fit in the album. They're not just tacked on at the end. They're chapters in their intended places. And it was so fun to be creative again. I recorded these songs back when the whole world was really shut down. So I was -- I mean everybody was depressed -- I was not alone in that -- but it was nice to be creative and have something to look forward to and get to make art again."
Open Book: Unabridged is available here.
For more information on Kalie Shorr, visit her official website.