BIRN Album Review: hole in the bottle by Kelsea Ballerini

With the upcoming release of her self-titled third studio album kelsea approaching, country-pop singer/songwriter Kelsea Ballerini has gifted listeners with an EP titled hole in the bottle. 

Kelsea Ballerini represents a new era of country music that has left the overreliance on male performers in the past for a world where women are subject instead of objects, capable of changing the narrative. Since the release of her 2015 debut album The First Time, her career skyrocketed beyond the confines of the country world. Featuring on The Chainsmokers song This Feeling with over 300 million streams, Ballerini solidified her position in both pop and country. 

Kelsea continues to deliver high-caliber country-pop fusion with hole in the bottle, maintaining fresh pop elements that shine in the production while giving listeners a taste of her country roots with the title track “hole in the bottle.” The track starts with a sampled monologue of a woman speaking about drinking atop a hip-hop inspired hi-hat leading into the verse. The candor and relatability of the lyrics blended with nashville-inspired instrumentation makes this feel-good title track the perfect song to jam to as we transition into the spring. 

The next song on the list is called “la” which focuses on the relationship Ballerini has with Los Angeles. Throughout the song, she vividly describes the effect LA has on her behavior and self confidence with lines like, “I’ve got a love and hate relationship with LA / Off the plane, paint my face in the car, park my heart at the valet.” She continues to communicate the way she fits into the drinking and partying scene in the song “club” that features a hard-hitting pop chorus blended with her country twang. “Club” is the type of song that says everything that most people are too scared to say when it comes to the party scene. After coming down from the chorus, Ballerini strikes a chord with the second verse saying, “I already know it ain’t worth it in the morning / And yeah I like the high I just don’t like paying for it / I’m stressing over conversations / But now that’s anxiety that I’m erasing / cause lately I don’t wanna go to the club.” 

The last song on this brief EP is called “homecoming queen?”. Although very similar in theme compared to the other tracks, “homecoming queen?” touches on one of the most thought provoking subject matters a songwriter could write about. The goal in writing this song was to change the perspective of the listener, giving them insight on the life of a homecoming queen. In an interview with billboard, Ballerini said, “Everyone’s human. It’s important for people to know that we’re all allowed to break down. We’re allowed to have bad days, and we don’t always have thick skin.” 

Kelsea Ballerini stayed true to herself with this release, focusing on topics that surpass the depth of the usual love songs we see on the charts today. With the anticipation of her third full album growing, her presence and love for music will not fade away anytime soon.