Fans of rising country sensation Jamie Lynn Spears will be very happy about the release of her new EP, "The Journey," today (May 27). As she shares a special playlist of video clips in which she explains the stories behind the songs, the singer tells Billboard says she's ready to give more to the the listeners who have been waiting a while for the music.
"For the past few years, I've been writing, working with different people, demoing songs, and really trying to figure out what the exact sound I wanted to put out there," Spears says. "My first exposure as an artist is really important. My fans have been so supportive, and have been so patient for me to get the music to them. They have heard all the YouTube clips, and my live shows, but they deserve to have something they can listen to in the car."
"The single is the most personal thing I have ever put out. I wrote it about four years ago. I was in a vulnerable place and at a vulnerable moment. It's definitely one of the most personal songs and has been really well-received by my fans – and even by people who weren't familiar with my music. I think that being that personal and being that honest really translated well to the song."
Though pop music has been a part of her family's life -- older sister Britney Spears has famously made a career of it -- Country music has always had a close spot in Jamie Lynn's heart. She says it was among her earliest memories growing up in Louisiana. Have a conversation with the singer and you just might be surprised how deep her roots into the genre go. "My first musical memories would have to be with my daddy at the dirt bike track. He loved Merle Haggard and all the greats. I love Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty – especially the duets they had together. I am a big Patsy Cline fan, but I also love Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson. What you grow up on will always have a special place in your heart."
One key track from the EP that Spears has received a lot of feedback from is the touching "Big Bad World." The lyrics are particularly effective, with a clever line in the song being "I Dig Out A Dollar For The Homeless Man, But I'm The One That Could Use The Change." The singer told Billboard that her co-writer, Chris Tompkins, gets the credit for that one.
"Everyone I've talked to says 'Big Bad World' is their song. To me, I love it. You never know what song people are going to grab on to, but people have consistently grabbed on to it. We were talking about how lonely I was feeling, and really wanted something familiar. It was a cold day in Nashville. I was missing home. Being the genius that he is, Chris put that emotion in such a way, and that line came from that."
Since the release of her single, it's been a whirlwind for Jamie Lynn. The former "Zoey 101" star opened several dates for Alan Jackson this spring, which she said were a highlight.
"That was a dream come true. I've always been a huge Alan Jackson fan. My daddy and I danced to one of his songs at my wedding. Being able to be in the same room with him -- much less the same stage -- was an honor. I was nervous as you can imagine, but I was so honored to be considered to sing in front of the same fans that he has."
Jamie Lynn Spears is definitely one newer country singer that isn't afraid about showing a little bit of twangier side to her voice. After all, she admitted it comes naturally – and that's what "The Journey" is all about. "I grew up on that sound. When I moved to Nashville, and was in a writing room with different writers, 'Shotgun Wedding' was one of the first songs we came up with. Chris says 'If that's what happened, you can sing it.' That made me feel so great – to be myself and who I am.' It makes me proud."
Spears is currently in the midst of a radio tour, and if you think it might upset her if you ask her about sister, Britney – think again. She beams when discussing her older sibling, saying "I'm proud of my sister. She's worked hard to become extremely successful. It makes me proud, but it also gives me an outlet to prove who I am as a person and what I love."
Spears says the most exciting thing right now, though, is sharing her new EP "The Journey" with her growing fanbase. "I just want to connect with them, and them to get a grasp of who I am as an artist," she says. "It's time to release something to them."