Described by PopMatters as “one part pop starlet, one part wandering troubadour,” Hadley Kennary is an artist/songwriter whose music is a modern mosaic of pop: shades of infectious melodies, poetic prose, and multi-faceted stories are blended together to create a voice all her own. With her songs and her captivating live show, along with her contributions to several artists’ projects as a songwriter and background vocalist, Kennary is carving a space for herself in Nashville’s ever-growing music scene.
Her next body of work, the Crooked Roots EP, is due out late 2021. Recorded in Nashville, this collection of five new songs both nods to the early 2000s songwriter-pop Kennary was raised on and introduces a fresh take on raw pop songwriting. On this EP, Kennary paints with several different shades of pop to make her own musical collage: personal storytelling laced with contagiously catchy melodies, hooky guitar lines, and undeniable pop sensibilities. With these songs, Kennary teeters on the line between poking emotional trigger points and full-on dance-party-in-your-bedroom euphoria. Songs like “Orbit” are the perfect soundtrack for a windows-rolled-down summer drive, while “Crooked Roots” tugs at the nostalgic growing pains of growing up. “Most of my songwriting is pretty personal, but this one really hits close to home,” Kennary says of the title track. “It’s bittersweet: there’s an amount of grief buried in it, realizing that there are versions of ‘home’ I’ll never get back, but it’s wrapped in gratitude for the colorful variety of places I do get to call home.”
The EP was co-produced by Collin Pastore and Jake Finch, the same production duo who also made Kennary’s 2019 buzz-worthy release Habits. Kennary says of the new EP, “Making this project has helped to solidify a few of my roots that have grown over the last few years: holding myself accountable for things I regret, how important it is to encourage people to feel what they need to feel, myself included, allowing myself to let people go, and acknowledging time is the only true healer.”
Kennary, appropriately pronounced like the bird, grew up constantly moving around the U.S. After graduating from the prestigious Berklee College of Music, she moved to Nashville to develop her craft. Since her arrival, she has independently released two EPs and a string of singles, on top of her contributions to several artists’ projects in the New Nashville community. She has garnered support from several reputable blogs as well as Nashville’s independent radio station Lightning 100, who dubbed her “a local gem” who “blends pop, country, and soul seamlessly to create almost a genre all her own” when she was made local artist of the week in May 2020.
As a songwriter, Kennary has had several songs recorded by wordsmiths like Bre Kennedy and Emily Hackett. Between her own releases as an artist and those she has penned for other artists, her songs have racked up 250,000+ streams on Spotify alone. Those songs have taken her everywhere from 2nd place in the Telluride Troubadour competition at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival to performing with Bre Kennedy at the legendary Ryman Auditorium opening for Sheryl Crow.
As she seamlessly shifts from one musical role to another – sometimes the artist, others the songwriter – Kennary firmly believes that the song is the most important and precious thread that weaves all of it into a cohesive whole. “As they’ve come together,” she says of her own upcoming songs, “I believe now more than ever that I’ll be just fine with these crooked roots of mine.”
Today Glide is excited to premiere Kennary’s new single “Orbit” (PRE-ORDER). Mixing a modern pop approach with her more folk-driven songwriting, Kennary conjures up a soaring sound that is at once infectious, light and thoughtful. Synth pop flourishes and sweeping instrumentation give the song that radio-friendly and arena-ready sound that many artists aspire to. There is an 80s sound meets indie rock coolness that brings to mind contemporaries like HAIM, which signals that Kennary is an artist to watch.
Listen to the track and read our interview with Kennary below…
What inspired you to write this song? What is it about?
I wrote “Orbit” about running into an ex at a party. This song is about still having someone in your life and watching their relationship to you change, both over time and right in front of you. “Orbit” is my way to dance through those growing pains and come out of them intentionally deciding to redefine a relationship. This song is my attempt to make sense of that shift and do my best to move forward.
How was it writing this song — did it all come out at once or did you really have to work at it for the song to come together?
“Orbit” was one of those songs that came in pieces – I wrote a verse here, a chorus there, and I even wrote an entirely different song with the same title. But after reworking the parts individually and zooming out to see them collectively, I saw a song in front of me that made sense and said what I needed to say. Every once in a while, songs happen like this, a little fragmented and over time, and it’s usually a sign that the song is worth the fight.
Because of COVID, did you have to change how you recorded this song? If so, how? Or was it recorded before the pandemic started?
I actually recorded “Orbit” a few years ago, so we were able to do it in-person and at a studio here in Nashville. I’ve been working on a lot of songs over the past few years, and a fun part of the creative process is picking how they’ll be released: some as singles, some woven together into a bigger body of work, etc. “Orbit” is one I’ve held onto for a while, and I’m so happy it’s finally getting to see the light of day.
Do you have any favorite parts of the song – lyrically or musically or vocally?
I think the bridge is my favorite part: “I still love you, it just looks different than it used to.” As a songwriter, I get caught up in writing the best possible version of the thing I’m trying to say: fighting for the right rhyme, looking for interesting metaphors, following the “rules” I’ve set… I geek out over it. It’s why I love being a songwriter. That being said, lines like these – ones that are matter-of-fact and honest and a little raw – sometimes hit the hardest. In this case, this part of the song doesn’t try to justify love. It simply says the love exists, maybe in a different shape or with less charge than it once had, but it’s still there, and that’s ok.
After this single comes out in March, what is coming up next for Hadley Kennary in 2021?
My favorite thing about my career is not only do I get to release music as an artist, but I get to be a part of songs released by other artists. Sometimes it’s my face and my name on a song, other times it’s my perspective as a co-writer, and every so often it’s my voice in the background. I love having the opportunity to be creatively involved in a bunch of different projects. It keeps things interesting for me knowing I get to hop between being the artist, the songwriter, and/or the background singer. So look for more coming from each of those corners this year!
Photo credit: Jason Lee Denton