John Paul White Signee Erin Rae Unveils 'Putting on Airs' Lyric Video: Premiere

Marcus Maddox
Erin Rae

Erin Rae confesses that she's "still kind of struggling" with some of the personal things she reveals in the songs from her upcoming album, Putting On Airs, whose title track is premiering exclusively below. But she's getting more comfortable with that as its June 8 release approaches.

"As more time has passed since writing them, every time I hear 'em I'm like, 'Damn, that was pretty bold. I just said exactly how I was feeling'," the Nashville-based Americana singer and songwriter, who was signed by the Civil Wars' John Paul White to his Single Lock Records label, tells Billboard. "And then other times it was very cathartic to me to listen back and feel like (the songs) serve as, like a guidebook to myself or a reminder of the things I’m wanting to let go of and move past. I hear myself telling myself what to do."

Though some of Putting On Airs' introspective moments do have specific inspirations, Rae (nee McKaskle) says most are "applied across the board to other experiences as well. It's kind of about a pattern of relationships over time and how I show up in those or I don't or I'm not able to, and dealing with all of that." Putting On Airs, meanwhile, details one of her more frequent defense mechanisms.

"There's an unconscious process that the song talks about of being charming in an attempt to get people like me," she explains. "Some of that is genuine, but there are moments for me, at least in the midst of struggling with something, where I don't want to look at myself honestly, and then when it becomes too uncomfortable to keep avoiding it, there's these moments of clarity. That song came out of one of those moments, and I was writing it as kind of an attempt to recapture it so I wouldn't forget it. I want to hopefully continue to relate to other people in a more direct and honest way instead of avoiding the real issues."

Rae already had Putting On Airs "in her pocket" when she met White in Florence, Ala., where she was opening for Single Lock act The Kernal -- who had recommended checking her out. "I felt like someone was playing a trick on me; 'This girl is phenomenal. Why don't I know she exists?'" White recalls. "She seemed so at ease, so at peace in her skin. You don't see that much, especially from musicians who are still opening shows. Her pitch was amazing, I loved the melodies. I was smitten." White even "looked for an out" but was also taken with meeting Rae and then hearing Putting On Airs.

"I thought I'd hear the record and it would be average, but the very first song completely took me in and I thought, 'Well, we need to take a stab at this and put ourselves out there,'" White says. "We're humbled and we're terrified 'cause we know how good she is, we know how good this record is and we really don't want to screw it up. We want to give her the best chance we possibly can."

Rae, meanwhile, is taking her share of responsibility for the fate of Putting On Airs, confident that it shows growth from her previous album, 2015's Soon Enough. "I just wanted to explore some different sounds and see what we came up with there," says Rae, who recorded Putting On Airs in Appleton, Wisc., with co-producers Jerry Bernhardt and Dan Knobler and drummer Dominic Billett (Billett and Bernhardt also play with The Kernal). "We were able to spend more time to take each song one by one, which I wasn't able to do last time. It was really nice to work with new people and make something I'm really happy with and can't wait for people to hear."