Kristen Kelly notched her first major exposure to country radio at large during her performance on the General Jackson boat during the Country Radio Seminar this past February. Since then, her debut single, "Ex-Old Man" has made an impact with fans, reaching No. 30 on the Billboard Country Songs chart (currently 38).
This week, the Texan releases her debut self-titled EP, produced by the legendary Tony Brown and veteran songwriter Paul Overstreet, for Arista Nashville.
"We have the finished album, so we decided to take four songs and put them out, that way we're getting some new music out to the fans a little sooner than it would take to package the full album," said Kelly, who was a "615 Spotlight" artist back in July. "I feel like it shows four different sides of who I am as an artist, but I feel like they are cohesive, and a good starting point for what is on the album."
Kelly says that she has enjoyed watching the single climb, as well as all the career firsts that have accompanied it. "The entire year has been one big 'pinch me moment' from having the opportunity to be on the tour with Brad Paisley, playing the Opry, and all of the career milestones that have all come this year," she said.
In addition to the single, the EP contains the other song she performed on the CRS cruise, the spellbinding "He Loves To Make Me Cry." She says she was fortunate to be a part of it. "I was really lucky to have Even Stevens bring that song idea to the table to write with Paul Overstreet and I. It's a fun song to sing and to watch the crowd get into when we do it live."
She credits her songwriting partners with helping her come up with something a little different on the sensual "Miss Me," which closes the EP.
"I wrote that with Shane Minor and Monty Criswell. When we were writing the song, I was laughing and telling the guys that these weren't the kind of things that I do. I'm more of the tomboy with a bit of a girl streak in me. So, I don't feel like I conduct myself in a very seductive manner on a regular basis. But, it doesn't matter if you are feminine, or tomboy-ish, or whatever, I think that anybody that is in any kind of relationship wants to know that whoever we are with is thinking about us when we're apart. It was fun to write it, because it's not one I typically write, and to have them pull something out of me that I'm not used to writing. I told Tony that I wanted a guitar feel on this song that was reminiscent of the Eagles. I feel we captured that. It's one that people start singing with very quickly."
Kelly says that she has tried to take moments from along the way this year, and enjoy them. "Back in February, when we started the radio tour, people would say to just make sure to take the time to soak it all in. I feel like timing is everything. I think if I had reached this point in my career ten years ago, I'm sure I would have appreciated it, but I don't know if I would have taken the time to step back and soak it all up."