The Driveway, out Friday and premiering exclusively below, is Washington singer-songwriter Jessi McNeal's third studio album. The project comes after a four-year interim spent dealing with health and family concerns.
During that time, McNeal and her husband ushered the children in their blended family into college and young adulthood, including one marriage, and handled what McNeal refers to as "some health things." The couple also moved to a new 5-acre spread in Belleville, Wash., where they remodeled some of the standing buildings and established a new plant nursery with help from McNeal's father-in-law. "It's been a ride, that's for sure," McNeal tells Billboard -- but even amidst all the activity she was still writing the songs that would populate The Driveway.
"That's definitely how I process life: pen and guitar in hand," McNeal says. "I was letting the songs come. I let the pile emerge and then started looking and going, 'What's the overarching theme here?' and then, 'Which songs fit with that theme?' Definitely the overall theme was transition and being in the middle of some really hard stuff, not knowing how or when it's going to wrap up -- and being OK with that waiting. I think you can hear that in a lot of the songs."