Hailey Whitters: ‘RAISED’ – Album Review
Hailey Whitters third studio album, RAISED is out now, March 18th on all streaming platforms. Check out our full review and listen to the new album below.
Hailey Whitters has been an artist to watch for many years, and after making a splash with her sophomore record The Dream, Whitters has returned with a brand new 17-track project, RAISED.
The album opens with an instrumental in Latin titled “Ad Astra Per Alas Porci”, which translates to “Pigasus”, a pig that flies – a trope that Whitters holds close to her heart. Pigasus is the name of Whitters’ personal record imprint, so this cinematic opener really sets the scene of learning her backstory sonically. It ties in perfectly to the title track “Raised”, an airy, nostalgic song with fabulous imagery about being raised as a Heartland girl. You can hear her Chicks influence, but it also feels like an extension of “Heartland”. It’s no coincidence that Whitters wrote this song with the same co-writers. It’s classically Hailey; it sounds like a sunrise.
Much of the first half of the record are stellar story-songs written specifically about Whitters’ childhood growing up in Iowa. Yet, the specificity remains relatable. Between the perfectly fiddle-heavy “Big Family” and John Mellencamp-esque “Middle of America” (the latter of which features alternative country band American Aquarium); and the bonafide fan favorite “Boys Back Home”, all are pulled from the life that she has lived so far. Whitters is a strong songwriter by herself, but she also collaborated with some of the best songwriters in Nashville on the project. From the storytelling queen, Lori McKenna to her record–label head, Nicolle Galyon to the insanely legendary, Tom Douglas, it’s no wonder each lyric has such prominent meaning.
All 17 tracks are evocative, witty, and intentional. “Boys Back Home”, which she wrote with frequent collaborators Brandy Clark and Jessie Jo Dillon captures the essence of hometown scarcity. “When I think about all of the men that I know // They’re ain’t none like the boys back home”, she sings with a shine in her voice on the chorus.
Another highlight on RAISED is “College Town”, an anthem for all those who took the big leap of faith to further their education. “She’ll come home for Christmas and cut off her hair // Got a whole new opinion her parents don’t share”. The way Whitters approaches the song is different from most country songs about college and is still authentically country.
The interlude that goes into “Our Grass Is Legal” has Whitters’ Aunt Cindy on the phone with a potential customer at the Whitters family turf farm who mistakes their business for one that sells weed. The song that follows it – and is the family businesses’ slogan – “Our Grass Is Legal” is the midwestern, blue-collar anthem of the album. It has a real rocking, slight jazzy groove to it, and will without a doubt be a crowd-pleaser when performed on tour.
The official closer, and another highlight, is the sweet “In A Field Somewhere”. It’s the bookend for the title track and the entire RAISED project. It tells the story of Whitters learning to drive, sneaking off with her friends as a teenager, and even when she got proposed to by her fiancé, fellow Iowan native, and producer, Jake Gear. It’s the perfect closer, and the reprise of the first instrumental finishes it off so wonderfully.
RAISED is a true record, one that is best listened to in order, maybe in the car with the windows down, or at home watching the sunset. Music isn’t made like this anymore, and Hailey Whitters continues to raise the bar in every way for songwriters, musicians, and frankly, music fans everywhere by being herself. RAISED is a love letter to the midwest as much as it’s a love letter to storytelling. And it’s a story that keeps getting better the more chapters Whitters writes.
- Ad Astra Per Alas Porci (Jordan Lehning, Pedro Palomino)
- Raised (Hailey Whitters, Nicolle Galyon, Forest Glen Whitehead)
- Everything She Ain’t (Hailey Whitters, Bryan Simpson, Ryan Tyndell)
- Big Family (Hailey Whitters, Cameron Bedell, Nicolle Galyon)
- Middle Of America (feat. American Aquarium) (Hailey Whitters, Bobby Pinson)
- Plain Jane (Hailey Whitters, Hillary Lindsey, Cary Barlowe)
- College Town (Hailey Whitters, Nicolle Galyon, Jimmy Robbins)
- Interlude (Hailey Whitters, Pedro Palomino)
- Boys Back Home (Hailey Whitters, Brandy Clark, Jessie Jo Dillon)
- Everybody Oughta (Matt Roy, Craig Wiseman)
- Pretty Boy (Hailey Whitters, Scooter Carusoe, Tom Douglas)
- The Neon (Hailey Whitters, Rodney Clawson, Lori McKenna)
- The Grassman (Hailey Whitters, Aaron Raitiere)
- Our Grass Is Legal (Hailey Whitters)
- Beer Tastes Better (Hailey Whitters, Lori McKenna)
- In A Field Somewhere (Hailey Whitters, Jeff Hyde, Bryan Simpson)
- Ad Astra Per Alas Porci (Reprise) (Jordan Lehning, Pedro Palomino)
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RAISED is available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released tunes on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.