Leigh Nash Heads Home on 'The State I'm In': Exclusive Song Premiere

Alysse Gafkjen
Leigh Nash

There are some music fans that might be a bit surprised with The State I'm In, the forthcoming album from Leigh Nash. After all, few would expect the singer best remembered for her days with Sixpence None the Richer ("Kiss Me") to deliver a traditional country-leaning album. But, as she tells Billboard, that sound is very much a part of her musical history. 

"I'm from South Texas in the hill country, south of Austin," she said, proudly touting her Lone Star roots. "The music I heard growing up has stayed with me in a way that no other music has. I hear less and less of some of the instrumentation and even melodically these days in country music. I just wanted to throw my hat in the ring and say 'Remember this?' That's what I tried to do."

Sixpence None the Richer Start New 'Conversation'

Talking about some of her influences, Nash touched on iconic singers like Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline, but also admits to being influenced by a few artists who don't normally get mentioned as such. 

"I was obsessed with Jim Reeves," she said of the late singer who defined 'The Nashville Sound.' I also was a big fan of Dottie West and loved her. My father gave me a songbook when I was growing up with the chords and it was full of Marty Robbins songs. That's how I learned to play and sing at the same time. That definitely made a lasting impression. It stuck with me."

The State I'm In touches on some of the events that have happened in Nash's life since her last release (2011's Hymns and Sacred Songs), including divorce, a death in the family and the amicable break-up of the band. 

"I've done a lot of living between projects. So much has happened since then. I haven't led a completely peaceful life -- not many people do. But, I had a lot of ups and downs which made for good subject matter for the album. It really came in handy," she said with a laugh. "I've been wanting to make this record since I was 14, but I needed the life experience to do it."

Ex-Sixpence Vocalist Nash Goes Solo

Nash co-wrote all 12 of the album's songs and called it her own version of the music she grew up on "with an emphasis on hooks and melodies and heartbroken lyrics." The co-writing was something fairly new to Nash on this project, changing her writing style in the process. She said she wound up finding a few musical partners from the beginning and couldn't be happier with how things turned out. 

"They met me exactly where my head was at as far as the kind of record I wanted to make," she said. "It's an uncommon kind of record and I'm thankful they were willing to spend the time with me to get it right -- as far as the sound I was looking for."
 
Today, Billboard brings you an exclusive listen to the The State I'm In's title track, which Nash said takes her back home. 

"There is a recurring theme on this album of being homesick," she said. "I'm always missing Texas and feeling torn between the home I came from and the one I've built in Tennessee. So in that way, 'The State I'm In' seemed like an appropriate title track. It covers a lot of ground. The song itself does as well -- there's a little Spanish in there and some awesome Mariachi horns that remind me of home." 

Nash said she loves the feel that the horns added: "I tried to get Flaco Jimenez on this record -- his sound is the embodiment of much of the vibe I tried to capture and I think we got it! But I still want Flaco to play on any and everything I do from here on out."
 
There's also a little bit of Loretta Lynn's feisty spirt on the cut, as well, she added, "It's a good old fashioned 'whoop her ass' song too, which I am particularly fond of!"

Listen to the track below and see the track list for The State I'm In, which will be released Sept. 18. 

The State I'm In track listing:
 
Spider and the Moth
Cruel Heart
Chicago
Mountain
What's Behind Me
Somebody's Yesterday
The Promise Break
Dreaming Out Loud
The State I'm In
High is Better
Tell Me Now Tennessee
Doing it Wrong