"When I listen to this album I think it sounds like me more so than ever," Jessica Andrews says of her new album Ain't That Life. "It feels rootsy and soulful, and it feels real. That's what I want my music to be."
Having taken control of her life and career, Jessica is pursuing her musical passions with singular intensity. "Some people still think of me as Rosemary's granddaughter, the 17-year-old girl who had a hit with 'Who I Am," she observes. "But that was four years ago. I've changed a lot since then, and now my goal is to let people know how much deeper I can go and how much more there is to me."
The 13-song set continues the compelling evolution of the 21-year-old artist's distinctive music vision, documenting her continuing growth as a singer and songwriter. In addition to co-writing six of Ain't That Life's songs, Jessica also co-produced the album with renowned producer and Universal Music Group Nashville Co-Chairman James Stroud.
"The whole experience of making this record was so completely different from any of my other records, and we were really serious about getting it right," Andrews notes. "I feel very close to this group of songs, more than I ever have with any album I've ever made. I probably say that on every record, but this one feels special to me. I think I've really grown, not just musically, but in my life. I'm feeling very upbeat, and I wanted to reflect that on this record."
The unmistakable sense of positive energy and emotional depth that drive Ain't That Life are prominent in the album's diverse array of standout material and in Andrews' impassioned performances. The album's diverse emotional palette encompasses the upbeat affirmation of the self-penned first single "Summer Girl," the life-embracing urban vibe of "Ain't That Life" and the personally-charged insights of "The Marrying Kind" and "That's Who I Was." A more intimate introspection into Andrews comes with "Straight To The Bone" and "I'm Going Back."
Many of Ain't That Life's key tracks are Jessica's own compositions, most of them penned in collaboration with her longstanding writing partners Marcel Chagnon (who doubles as her significant other) and James T. Slater. "I'm really close to these songs," says Andrews. "I think that they reflect how I've grown, not just musically, but also in my life."
Indeed, much has changed for Jessica Andrews since she launched her career with her 1999 debut album Heart Shaped World. While still a precocious, big-voiced teenager, she achieved a major chart breakthrough with 2001's Who I Am, before expanding her musical reach with 2003's Now. In addition to winning the Academy Of Country Music's Top New Female Vocalist award, she's scored a series of memorable hits including the #1 country smash "Who I Am," and shared stages with the likes of Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Trisha Yearwood.
Ain't That Life's organic, immediate atmosphere reflects the album's unconventional birth cycle. "I did a lot of soul searching while I was writing this album," Jessica recalls. "I was still trying to figure out where I belonged and what I needed to do musically, and I asked myself a lot of serious questions. I went to James Stroud and said 'I need you to give me some time to figure out what it is I should be doing.' He was great; he gave me the freedom to go off and write. And when I finally came back to him with a bunch of songs that I had written, I felt like I had really found myself creatively. I then asked him if he would produce them with me."
With Stroud signed on as co-producer, Andrews broke away from standard Nashville methodology to bring the songs to life. "James and I both wanted to record somewhere outside of Nashville," she explains. "So I picked the group of musicians I wanted to use and we all flew down to Miami and recorded there. For the first part of the day, we would just hang out on the beach and go out on the boat, and then we'd go into the studio and cut a couple of songs. It was a very creative atmosphere and it never felt like work. We had so much fun. I think the musicians understood that I wanted to do something different, so I think they felt inspired to dig a little deeper."
The evidence is there for all to hear on Ain't That Life, which inaugurates an exciting new phase in Jessica Andrews' musical life. "It's so rewarding to hear the end result of something that you've put your whole self into, and I wouldn't want to change anything about it," she states. "Of course, I want it to be a success, but when all is said and done, what matters to me is that I've made music that I'm ultimately proud of. And hopefully other people will love it as much as I do."