Kelsea Ballerini is telling her story and giving fans a look into her personal life with her new, six-song EP, Rolling Up The Welcome Mat. The project came as a surprise to fans, as it was announced mere hours before its release at midnight on Feb. 14. The singer also released a short film to accompany the album. The 20-minute video follows Ballerini through the journey of the six songs, as she visually represents what each track means to her. Each of the songs and the short film are deeply personal and feature reflections and clues about the past couple years of Ballerini's life, including her divorce from singer Morgan Evans.
"I wasn't worried about anything other than presenting the songs as honestly as possible," Ballerini shares in a press release. "Most of them started with me and my guitar."
The project begins with "Mountain with a View," which finds Ballerini singing from the perspective of a wife waiting for her husband to return home. The song features striking detail as she sings about staying in a house in Big Sur, California while Evans tours in Amsterdam. She describes a relationship in which two people are slowly drifting apart and surmises that her partner loved her more when she was "23" (the age of Ballerini when she met Evans).
The song also seems to answer the question posed by Evans in his own post-breakup song, "Over for You," when at the end of the chorus she sings, "This is when it's over for me."
The story of her relationship continues in the serene second track, "Just Married," which chronicles how a fairytale love story can end in divorce. She reflects on their wedding day (even including their Dec. 2 wedding date in the lyrics) and, in a heart-wrenching play on words, recalls how they went from a happy newlywed couple to "just... married." The song also gives clues about the possible reasons for their divorce.
"I wasn't made for fixing a plate or keeping our problems buried / I wasn't strong enough to keep on with all of the weight that I carried / Yeah, it was love / Then it was just married," she sings in the chorus.
In the next track, "Penthouse," Ballerini sings about living in a Nashville penthouse with Evans and eventually buying their first home together. The chorus shares more of their difficulties as two performing artists with busy schedules who "played the part five nights," but didn't see one another on the weekends. Ballerini then shares more honest truths in the 45-second, pop-influenced "Interlude."
The fifth track, "Blindsided," leaves fans with plenty details to unpack. This song also seems to serve as a response to Evans' "Over for You." Evans sings about being surprised about Ballerini's divorce filing in his emotional 2022 song, and in "Blindsided," Ballerini questions how that could be true, based on her perspective of their relationship.
"And now you're saying that you're lost, and that's lost on me / Years of sitting across from me in therapy / I know the truth is hard to hear, but it wasn't hard to find / Baby, were you blindsided or were you just blind?" she sings.
She also gives more insight into reasons for their split, singing, "You didn't ever wanna leave the house, I didn't want a family."
The EP closes with "Leave Me Again," which serves as both a positive message to her ex and a promise to herself. In the tune, she sings about her hopes for Evans ("I hope you get the house and the good wife and the kids") while promising that she'll never lose herself again in a relationship.
Ballerini wrote four of the six tracks by herself, and she teamed up with Alyssa Vanderheym for two. She says writing the project was a version of "therapy" -- one she's been using to cope since her parents divorced as a child.
"I was writing by myself for most of the project, and it was nice to trust myself again," Ballerini shares of the EP. "The only way I've been able to handle my life since I was 12 was to write about it. Ironically, I started writing music because my parents got divorced; that was my therapy. Rolling Up The Welcome Mat was how I processed everything. It's the way I got my feelings out of my body and heart and put them to music, which is the purest way I could've handled it."
READ MORE: Kelsea Ballerini Fuels Chase Stokes Dating Rumors With a TikTok From Bed
Enjoy all things country?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.