Party Nails’ upcoming debut album finds singer-songwriter Elana Belle Carroll graduating from Americana, folk and country music into the realm of synth pop — without completely abandoning those genres, as evidenced by the track “I Go To You,” which premieres exclusively below.
“I wrote it, like, two years ago and at the time I really wasn’t thinking about what I was working on,” Carroll tells Billboard. “I thought it was an anomaly from the rest of the record, but also part of the same family of songs. I think it touches on some things I’ve been trying to do in quieter, more roots-based productions, and it’s the first time I’ve been able to achieve writing a sing-along format song but having a more intimate, quiet feel to it.
“It’s funny to be blending these two worlds that up until recently felt very disparate. Now they’re starting to come together in a way that’s more graceful than I would have thought, and I’m grateful for that.”
Carroll did consider adding synthesizers, drum machines and other touches to “I Go To You,” but apart from adding a subtle string synthesizer in the background decided the song was best left alone. “I let this quieter production kind of come to me and not think about going beyond it — ‘We’ve got a nice take here. I’m gonna stick with that and not overdo it,'” she recalls.
Party Nails’ mostly buoyant Past Lives and Paychecks comes out Oct. 19 and gives Carroll a first album of her own after collaborating with electronic acts such as MitiS, Getter and others. “I really wanted to be putting out work that was my production and not all collaborations,” Carroll says. “I love collaborating, but I just felt a need to put another foot forward on a professional level.” Embracing mainstream pop styles and sound, meanwhile, was “scary” but ultimately “totally the exact thing I wanted to be doing,” Carroll adds.
“Doing your own thing, there’s a layer of vulnerability to it,” Carroll explains. “It’s one thing to be, like, ‘I’m an artist!’ and another thing be, ‘I wrote and played and produced everything on these songs.’ That means you’re the only one to blame if it doesn’t work. You need to trust yourself on your instincts on a creative level. That’s scary, but that’s really exciting, too.”
Party Nails will be touring this fall to promote Past Lives and Paychecks, and Carroll predicts that “I Go To You” may be a harbinger of “a direction I’ll be exploring more. “There’s a lot of common ground between country and pop music and Americana styles. There’s something special about an organic-sounding record that still explores different ground. Neil Young and Feist are two artists who have made all kinds of albums from a production perspective and are trendsetting. I want to contribute to that canon one day. I feel like it’s there right now, really.”