INTERVIEW: Lauren Watkins Discusses Her Debut Album, The Heartbroken Record, Touring Internationally with Morgan Wallen and Full-Circle CMA Fest Performances

From releasing Y2K country-influenced lyrical clinchers to singing about the many facets of heartbreak, Nashville-born and raised emerging Big Loud x Songs & Daughters country artist-writer, Lauren Watkins, is paving a solid foundation for a long career ahead of her.

For those who are unfamiliar with Watkins and her artistry, she truly is a class act with a deep appreciation for the country genre, songwriters and indie artists. The most important thing to her is writing and working with the people she loves– and the result of that is positively reflected through her music. As a songwriter, she’s penned tracks with some of Nashville’s finest songwriters, including her mentor Nicolle Gaylon, Ashley Monroe, fellow Big Loud Labelmate ERNEST and the “Late Bloomer” singer, Carter Faith. As an artist, she has earned well beyond 11M+ global digital streams on Spotify alone and has collaborated with stars such as Sheryl Crow, GRAHAM BARHAM and Kameron Marlowe (on Joe Diffie tribute HIXTAPE track “A Night To Remember”). As a performer, she’s currently touring with country superstar and fellow Big Loud labelmate, Morgan Wallen, as part of his One Night At A Time World Tour. Watkins has also previously toured with Jameson Rodgers, Austin Snell, Hailey Whitters and many more notable acts.

On June 21st, Watkins released her debut full-length album, The Heartbroken Record via Big Loud x Songs & Daughters. Produced once again by Joey Moi, the 17-track album explores the many different emotions that come with heartbreak and features the memorable opening ballad, “Leavers Leave”, the emotion-fuelled neotraditional, contemporary banger “Mama, I Made It” and the reflective “Settling Things” amongst other standout tracks. It’s also been previously stated that this album “leaves the past behind” for the rapidly rising artist-writer. Speaking more about the record as a whole and how it will introduce this next chapter of her career, Watkins shares,

The Heartbroken Record is, well, a bunch of heartbreak songs”. She mentions,”I just got married, so I felt the need to get the last chapter off my chest before moving forward”. She continues, “Heartbreak is something very human–sometimes it’s sad, sometimes it’s not- I wanted to showcase all those emotions on the album”. Adding, “I hope fans can relate to it” (Watkins).

Featured: Official cover art for Lauren Watkins' debut album. The Heartbroken Record. PC: Victoria Hughes. Courtesy of Big Loud x Songs & Daughters.

The album’s release also comes after Watkins received mentorship from GRAMMY-nominated Nicolle Gaylon and a year of co-writing with fellow songwriters. Speaking about how both set a solid foundation for this album, she shares,

“She really took me under her wing early on, developing me as an artist, introducing me as a songwriter and to other songwriters and artists. She signed me, secured me publishing deals”. Adding, “What’s really important to me, is having someone work with me who is such a good mentor and friend” (Watkins).

Watkins also has a writing credit on every track on the album, some of which were co-written with songwriters such as Luke Laird, Jessie Jo Dillon and Lauren Hungate. Speaking about the songwriting process behind the record and what it was like to co-write with such talents, she shares,

I’m super passionate about songwriting and songwriters, really cool. Every writer on the album is a friend of mine, which really helps with the writing process. My husband, best friends, sister and mentor are all writers on the album, which is what’s really important to me. I’m grateful to have such good writers on the project” (Watkins).

One of the album tracks, “Gatlinburg,” “serves as an upbeat tribute to emotional escapism, an ode to East Tennessee’s Disney World and its Margaritaville-like powers”(Watkins, PR team)— which Watkins also recently released a music video for. Speaking more about her creative vision behind the video and what it was like bringing the song to life and on set, she shares,

“We wrote ‘Gatlinburg’ while on a writing retreat there. I love to go on retreats up there with my circle of songwriters”. She continues, “I wanted the music video to feel a lot like how the song was written– less on the heavy side of heartbreak, and more on the lighter side of it, where you’d be with your friends, drive around in your car.” Adding, “We shot it in Gatlinburg and on the drive there, so the video is pretty accurate” (Watkins).

Fans can get a glimpse into Watkins’ Gatlinburg by watching the full music video on YouTube now.

Featured: Artist-writer Lauren Watkins on stage. PC: Victoria Hughes. Courtesy of Big Loud x Songs & Daughters.

This past spring, Watkins played some of the tracks off the record in stadiums internationally as part of fellow Big Loud labelmate Morgan Wallen’s One Night At A Time World Tour. Speaking about what touring with Wallen and sharing the tracks off the album with sold-out stadiums of fans has been like so far for her and what has this accomplishment meant to her (especially this early on in her career), she shares, 

“It’s been really, really cool. I’m thankful to him for giving me the opportunity, especially as a new artist”. She continues, “To play for his decicated, loyal fans… it’s been awesome”. Adding,”Playing the stadiums, it’s been a great way to see what works and what doesn’t” (Watkins).

Looking forward to continuing to share the album’s tracks on European stages this fall, she shares,

“I’m excited to perform on European stages this fall! I played a few European dates earlier this year, which gave me a first taste of what to expect. As a songwriter, I’m excited to go back! I’ve heard they are such good listeners over there, and it really is true”. Adding, “It’s something truly special to be on stage, hearing my songs sung back to me” (Watkins).

Featured: Artist-writer Lauren Watkins. PC: Tori Johnson. Courtesy of Big Loud x Songs & Daughters.

This summer, Watkins is hitting stages nationwide as part of a festival circuit. One of those stops so far was CMA Fest, which was truly a full-circle moment for her as she used to attend as a fan with her friends every summer. Speaking more about those performances and what those experiences have meant to her, she shares,

“I’m born and raised in Nashville, CMA Fest was our Superbowl. We looked forward to it every year. Of course, we would go to the big concerts at night, but we’d also enjoy going to the little, smaller artists’ shows during the day”. Adding, “I always loved country music and CMA Fest reminds me of that. So the experience means a lot, it was all really special” (Watkins).

On August 10th, Watkins is set to make her Boots & Hearts debut at her only Canadian date this summer. Speaking about how she is looking forward to connecting with her Canadian fans and playing one of the bigger country music festivals in Ontario, she enthusiastically shares, “I’m very excited! I’ve only heard good things. It really hit at the perfect timing” (Watkins). 

Lastly, on June 26th, Watkins will be hosting another Heartbreak Supper Club writer’s round to celebrate the release of her album. Joining her in “The Heartbroken Round” will be some of the songwriters on the record, including her husband Will Bundy, her older sister Caroline Watkins, Lauren Hungate and The Warren Brothers. Speaking a bit more about the event and what fans can expect, she shares,

“I’ve always wanted to do some sort of party or show around my album release. I asked myself, ‘What would I do when I put out an album?'” She continues, “I wanted to celebrate the songs with the people I wrote it with, which is most important to me. So we’re having a classic Nashville writer’s round”. She goes on to explain, “I’m a fan of all these artists/songwriters separate from their work for me, so it’s really cool”. Adding, “It’s going to be super fun & casual. I really want people to have a good time and hear the songs in their most natural state” (Watkins).

For fans (21+) interested in attending the release party, doors open at Blind Barber at 7pm. No tickets are needed. For more information, head to the artists’ website and socials. 

THE HEARTBROKEN RECORD OFFICIAL TRACK LIST

  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)

 

*All songs produced by Joey Moi
 

Listen to The Heartbroken Record Now:

Stay in the Know with Lauren Watkins:

Works Cited

Hughes, Victoria. “Featured: Artist-writer Lauren Watkins on stage. PC: Victoria Hughes. Courtesy of Big Loud x Songs & Daughters.”. Courtesy of Big Loud x Songs & Daughters. Accessed June 24 2024.

 

Hughes, Victoria. “Featured: Nashville-born & raised country artist-writer, Lauren Watkins. PC: Victoria Hughes. Courtesy of Big Loud x Songs & Daughters.”. Courtesy of Big Loud x Songs & Daughters. Accessed June 24 2024.

 

Hughes, Victoria. “Featured: Official cover art for Lauren Watkins’ debut album. The Heartbroken Record. PC: Victoria Hughes. Courtesy of Big Loud x Songs & Daughters.”. Graphic courtesy of Big Loud x Songs & Daughters. Accessed June 24 2024.

 

Johnson, Tori. “Featured: Artist-writer Lauren Watkins. PC: Tori Johnson. Courtesy of Big Loud x Songs & Daughters.”. Courtesy of Big Loud x Songs & Daughters. Accessed June 24 2024.

 

Watkins, Lauren. Interview. Conducted by Kyla Pearson, June 25 2024.

 

Watkins, Lauren. PR team. “Lauren Watkins The Heartbroken Record | Album Bio”. N.d, pp. 1-3, PDF. Courtesy of PR team. Accessed June 24 2024.

 

Watkins, Lauren. “Lauren Watkins – Gatlinburg (Official Music Video)YouTube, uploaded by Lauren Watkins, June 21 2024, <https://youtu.be/fcg4_f9QAFM?si=-cxwoGGIzvVr30Bc>. Accessed June 24 2024.

 

Watkins, Lauren. @lauren.watkins. “Boyyy am i excited for Wednesday…” Instagram, June 25 2024, <https://www.instagram.com/p/C8nqKMauqp6/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link&igsh=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==>.

 

Watkins, Lauren. “The Heartbroken Record”. Spotify, Big Loud Records/Songs & Daughters, under exclusive license to Mercury Records/Republic Records, A division of UMG Recordings, Inc.. June 24 2024. <https://open.spotify.com/album/5JGn3VCsHcB2xaqY5bdclK?si=yxp7xORIQKqBEmJXtyH8Qg>.

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