Lauren Watkins: ‘The Heartbroken Record’ – Debut Album Review

Lauren Watkins releases her brand new debut album, The Heartbroken Record, out now, June 2st on all streaming platforms. Listen to the new project here.

With a honeyed vocal tone that evokes a mix of the country greats with today’s modern female superstars, rising singer-songwriter Lauren Watkins is full of promise. The Nashville native’s debut album, The Heartbroken Record, out now, features 17 new tracks that take listeners on a journey.

Each track was co-penned by Watkins, enlisting Music Row heavy-hitters like Nicolle Galyon, Lance Miller, Andy Sheridan, and more, to lend their talents. Collaborators include Ashley Monroe, Sheryl Crow, Carter Faith, and Jake Worthington, each who lend their voices to the Joey Moi-produced debut.

Released via Big Loud Records / Songs & Daughters, the album centers around the universal theme of heartbreak but touches on everything from wallowing to revenge to moving on. “It’s the one thing that connects everybody, because no matter who you are, what your status is or how much money you have, we all feel heartbreak – it makes us the same,” Watkins revealed in a statement. “And I happen to think that as much as it can be sad, it’s a beautiful, necessary part of life.”

For Watkins, much of her debut project reads like an extremely well-written and poignant journal, her voice and style recalling icons like Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraces, LeeAnn Womack, and more. “I didn’t want to just put an album out – I wanted it to be purposeful,” she says. “It’s the past several years of my life, and that was just so much heartbreak and dramatic girl-feelings, but I think in a really deep and relatable way… and it just needs to get off my chest.”

Sonically, the album tends to embrace the influences of 90s country and a rootsy twang, with moments of singalon- worthy anthemic empowerment.  “I brought all my influences to the table – from Kacey Musgraves and Willie Nelson to Miranda Lambert – and tried to cover every emotion that comes with heartbreak. The good, the bad, and the ugly,” she reveals. “It’s exactly the space in country I thought was missing and wanted to fill. It’s sweet and warm, but also gritty and tough at the same time, and that’s my favorite thing. I love it.”

The album’s opener “Leavers Leave” is an immediate attention-grabber with its mid-tempo 90’s inspired melody that finds her vocals floating over the inevitable facts of life. Likewise, the album’s titular track is equally poignant, as she finds herself spiraling like a broken record after a heartbreak.

While Watkins shines on ballads, she’s also right at home on up-tempo tunes, evidenced on the clever kiss off, “One Trick Pony” and “Sad Songs and You,” which finds her musing that “the only things that ever make me cry are sad songs and you.” The tune is a twangy two-stepper just made for the Opry stage, while the earwormy “Gallatin” bounces along with a summery and endlessly catchy Shanty-esque cadence.

“Mama I Made It” finds her channeling her inner Reba, cleverly turning tongue-in-cheek phrases on the lyrical disaster of her own making, while “Stuck in Her Ways” is a reflective acceptance that she’s not about to change who she is.

“I keep a six pack in the Fridge // And a rocking chair out back // I keep a light on, on the porch // And a key under the mat // I don’t park in that spot where you parked your Chevrolet // I ain’t sitting ‘round hoping you’ll come back someday // I’m just stuck in my ways // Yeah I’m stuck in my ways”

The collabs on the album provide another set of highlights, truly allowing Watkins to experiment with different sounds and styles. On “Set My Heart On Fire,” she joins forces with Sheryl Crow in an attempt to not be swayed by another bad boy. It’s rootsy and guitar-driven, much like much of Crow’s catalog. Likewise, “Pretend You’re Coming Home” finds Watkins trading verses with the ethereal Ashley Monroe, the pair longing for a simpler time when someone was still coming home. “Around five every night, I go back in time,” they sing. “Even though you’re gone, I pretend you’re coming home.”

On “Fly on the Wall,” she harmonizes with Jake Worthington, whose pristine baritone perfectly complements her emotive twang as they deal with the waltzing aftermath of moving on. Carter Faith joins in on “Cowboys on Music Row,” the pair musing over the sad state of today’s cowboys and country singers, longing for the days of the “redheaded stranger” or a “real rodeo man.” It’s a modern take on Paula Cole’s “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?,” as they lament “Where oh, where oh, where did they go, There ain’t no cowboys on music row.”

On “Settling Things,” Watkins shows shades of Musgraves’ “Merry Go ‘Round,” musing that “we’re all kind of happy, we’re all kind of bored.” Likewise, “Burn the Bridge” has her realizing that some things just can’t be saved and it’s better to move on and move forward. It’s a catchy and lush moment of acceptance. 

“Yeah I burned up a backroad // On my way outta town and // I Lit up a cigarette // To put that old flame out // Gonna burn down the bar // Burn some pictures in the yard // ‘Cause it is what it Is // If you can’t mend the fence // Burn the bridge”

Songs like “Anybody But You,” “Shirley Temple,” and “Jealous of Jane,” find her trying, with varying degrees of success, to move on. On “Anybody,” she admits that “the only way to fall out of love is to hate you,” while “Jealous” has her admitting that she “don’t want him back, but I don’t want him to want her.” 

The album ends with “Too Much to Dream,” an ethereal showcase of Watkins’ gorgeous twang and brilliant lyricism. Here, she’s still trying to move on, finding an escape in her dreams.

“So if I seem like I’m a ten out of ten // I owe it to a few sheets to the wind // Tucked me in faster than I could cry // I had too much to dream last night // So if I seem like I’m a ten out of ten // I owe it to a few sheets to the wind”

With seventeen tracks centered around the central theme of heartbreak, it would’ve been easy for The Heartbroken Record to come off as same-ish and one dimensional. However, that’s not the case here. Instead, Watkins delivers a multi-faceted and humanized take on broken hearts and the aftermath in a way that shows that healing may not always be linear. It’s truly a work of art that the singer-songwriter should be proud of as she moves into her next chapter, personally and professionally.

The Heartbroken Record Tracklist:

  1. Leavers Leave (Lauren Watkins, Lance Miller, Brad Warren, Brett Warren)
  2. Mama, I Made It (Lauren Watkins, Rocky Block, Lauren Hungate)
  3. Heartbroken Record (Lauren Watkins, Will Bundy, Caroline Watkins)
  4. Sad Songs And You (Lauren Watkins, Lauren Hungate)
  5. Set My Heart On Fire (feat. Sheryl Crow) (Lauren Watkins, Emily Landis, Summer Overstreet, Lydia Vaughan)
  6. Stuck In My Ways (Lauren Watkins, Will Bundy, David Garcia, Emily Landis)
  7. Gatlinburg (Lauren Watkins, Jessie Jo Dillon, Carter Faith, Lauren Hungate, Ashley Monroe, Caroline Watkins)
  8. Anybody But You (Lauren Watkins, Rodney Clawson, Mark Holman, Ernest Keith Smith)
  9. Settling Things (Lauren Watkins, Lauren Hungate, Luke Laird)
  10. One Trick Pony (Lauren Watkins, Will Bundy, Lydia Vaughan, Caroline Watkins)
  11. Fly On The Wall (feat. Jake Worthington) (Lauren Watkins, Andy Sheridan, Brad Warren, Brett Warren)
  12. Shirley Temple (Lauren Watkins, Nicolle Galyon, Meg McRee)
  13. Pretend You’re Coming Home (feat. Ashley Monroe) (Lauren Watkins, Ashley Monroe, Mark Trussell)
  14. Jealous Of Jane (Lauren Watkins, Brad Warren, Brett Warren, Caroline Watkins)
  15. Cowboys On Music Row (feat. Carter Faith) (Lauren Watkins, Jessie Jo Dillon, Carter Faith, Lauren Hungate, Ashley Monroe, Caroline Watkins)
  16. Burn The Bridge (Lauren Watkins, Will Bundy, Emily Landis, Mark Trussell)
  17. Too Much To Dream (Lauren Watkins, Forrest Finn, Nicolle Galyon)

Country Swag Picks:

  1. Gatlinburg
  2. Leavers They Leave 
  3. Burn the Bridge
  4. Cowboys on Music Row

Lauren Watkins shares her debut album, ‘The Heartbroken Record,’ out now on all streaming platforms.

Fans can join our Weekly Round-Up e-newsletter here, for the latest in country music and more news about future Lauren Watkins releases.

For tour dates and more, visit the singer-songwriter’s website here.

To keep up with Lauren Watkins, follow her on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.

The Heartbroken Record is available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.