Hailey Whitters breaking barriers in country music with new album ‘Raised’

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Harper Smith

Singer-songwriter Hailey Whitters released her third studio album “Raised” on March 18.

Rising country music star Hailey Whitters welcomes listeners into her Iowa upbringing and Midwestern roots in her third-studio album “Raised.”

Whitters took the country music scene by storm in 2020 with her self-funded album “The Dream,” where she envisioned a future for herself in Nashville, Tenn. and she has succeeded in just that. Since then, she has been dominating the industry with tracks that evoke a dreamy nostalgia and appreciation for small towns, which is emphasized in the thematic and light-hearted “Raised.” 

In “Raised,” the Shueyville, Iowa native, along with her fellow co-writers and collaborators, captures the experiences of heartbreak, hometown pride and family life, set against the imagery of cornfields and sprawling fields. 

The 17-track album opens with the instrumental number “Ad Astra Par Alas Porci,” a sound you don’t often hear on country albums. The phrase means “to the stars on the wings of a pig” and is an intentional reference to her female-driven record label, Pigasus Records, which Whitters created after she struggled to break into stardom.

The lead single from the album “Everything She Ain’t,” is a bubbly, flirty song with a bouncy rhythm and quirky lyrics such as “She ain’t a peach you oughta be pickin’/She ain’t the cup of tea you oughta be sippin’.” 

Whitters may be from a town of 700 people, but in “Big Family,” she details her formative childhood being from a large family, with the catchy, repetitive line “Who’s preachin’ in the living room.” Anyone who grew up in a rambunctious family with an endless amount of cousins will easily relate to this energetic tune. 

Some songs on the album may present a romanticized version of these small-town experiences, which Whitters beautifully describes, but “Pretty Boy” is a slower-paced tune on the album that is a tribute to young boys who may feel like an outsider. Boys are often told to be invincible and tough, but Whitters, who grew up with three brothers and many boy cousins, challenges this conception. 

Whitters told American Songwriter in a recent interview that this song is for any boy that might feel left out. 

“I just wanted to make sure that those boys heard that message. I think that’s important. It’s a song for them, telling them that it’s a strength to be vulnerable and to show somebody who you are,” she said.

Other standout tracks include “Middle of America,” which is a duet with folk band American Aquarium. “Boys Back Home” is an ode to the people who made an impact on her and “Our Grass is Legal” is a boisterous tune about a motto her grandfather created

The closing track “In A Field Somewhere” is what the album is all about; reconnecting with your roots and the simplicity of rural, country life. It’s a powerful summary chronicling the experiences Whitters details in previous tracks, and once Whitter’s days are over she wants to be put in a field somewhere.

The lyrics “In a field somewhere, where the suns shines out gold/Let my soul untether where the wild green grasses grow” evokes vivid imagery of sparkling sunshine, endless plains and grass blowing in the warm breeze.  

Nashville is lucky to have a talented and bright star that stands apart from the usual mold of the male-dominated country genre; Whitter’s music is reminiscent of her predecessors, The [Dixie] Chicks and Kacey Musgraves, but with a distinct, peppy energy.

Whitters was raised among the cornfields in Heartland USA, and her upbeat album “Raised,” full of joyful percussion and acoustics, represents exactly that. 

“Raised” can be listened to on all streaming platforms and catch Whitters on her first headlining tour across America.

Follow Sarah on Twitter @thesarahdipity.