Rising Star Alana Springsteen on Songwriting: “Writing Has Always Been My Therapy”

For 22-year-old rising country star Alana Springsteen, songwriting is more than a job or simply a passion: songwriting is everything.

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Relocating to Nashville and signing her first publishing deal at 14, Springsteen is beyond her years. She’s already a seasoned songwriter who approaches her music with profound wisdom and undeniable courage.

“Growing up, I wrote my first song when I was 9 years old and, from a young age, I was in love with storytelling and words,” she tells American Songwriter. “A big reason that I fell in love with country music is because no other genre is able to tell the stories that country can.”

She recently released a set of independent EPs, History of Breaking Up (Part One) and History of Breaking Up (Part Two). The two projects tell the tale of heartache and healing with songs born from the hardest of times.

Her first outside cut can be heard on the second of the two releases in the form of “New Number,” a song penned by powerhouse songwriting trio Ashley Gorley, Shane McAnally, and Rhett Akins. While she didn’t write it, she says she felt like “New Number” was a song meant for her.

“I’ll never forget the connection I had to it,” she says of the song. “From the moment that I heard it, I knew that I wanted to get a chance to sit down with them. I hoped one day I’d be able to hear the story behind it and how it all came together and just the life this song had before it ever found me.”

And that’s what she did. In conversation with the minds behind “New Number,” the trio of songwriters discusses how the song came to be and the journey it took before it met Springsteen. Watch their conversation below.

Her Own Songwriting Approach

Springsteen has learned a lot from the people she surrounds herself with, including the aforementioned Gorley, McAnally, and Akins. A longtime champion of the Nashville songwriting community, she explains it’s through them that she finds her inspiration.

“I am forever inspired by the Nashville songwriting community,” she details, explaining that it wasn’t until she experienced the magic that happens in a writer’s room that she understood the power of Nashville songwriters. “Coming here and experiencing co-writing for the first time was truly special. There are hundreds of writers all over this town that get together every day and try to articulate their truth and just write the most honest song that they can.”

Through these experiences, she has found her own power, writing songs that speak her truths and lay bare her most intimate feelings. “Writing has always been my therapy, she explains. “It’s what gets me through some of the hardest periods in my life. I could say things in my songs that I couldn’t say to my best friends, to my parents, to anybody else.”

Songwriting has guided her through the world and has been the tool used to untangle even the most difficult emotions. For her, inspiration strikes when she is laid bare, when all her feelings have been unleashed, her walls demolished, and she’s left to find the verses in the aftermath.

“A lot of times it’s just things that I need to get out,” she says of her songs. “I’ll get into these rooms and writes will start out as like mini therapy sessions.” Conversations turn into lyrics and the hardest moments become the most relatable hooks.

History of Breaking Up parts one and two were the products of some difficult times for the artist. “I’ve been in this season of just picking the wrong guys and my relationships not going well,” she says. “For me, that’s what I needed to get out at the time. These songs gave me that sense of closure that I needed.

“In moments when I need to say things, I’ll pick up my guitar and it’ll just fall out.”

Advice to Aspiring Young Songwriters

Elsewhere in the conversation with Gorley, McAnally, and Akins, the songwriters discuss the lessons they’ve learned throughout their careers. Watch below.

For Springsteen, she’s learned more in her young songwriting career than most, getting lessons everyday in being yourself and loving every minute of the journey.

“It’s really easy to fall into the trap of chasing what’s working for other people,” she explains. “The more that I write, I’m still learning this lesson, but I’ve been learning it since I moved to Nashville at 14, signed my first publishing deal. I’m learning that the only thing that’s worth chasing is the most original, honest version of yourself.

“The rest of it is just noise and a distraction,” she adds, stressing the importance of young songwriters finding their story and finding what they need to say. “Being as specific and vulnerable as you can is what’s going to help you find the people that need to hear what you have to say.”

Opening up and being real was when she found her community of fans. “I think it’s so beautiful when you can tell your story and find this community that finds a piece of theirs in that,” she continues.

For young songwriters, she also advised finding your people. She recalls only recently finding her sound and figuring out what she wanted to say. In that journey, she also found a safe space within the songwriting community, a group of people with whom she felt her songs were safe and she was seen.

“I was able to find a squad that I felt so safe with and felt like I could share my most vulnerable, raw moments with them,” she explains. “Finding that community as early as you can and prioritizing that is going to trickle into everything else.”

What’s Next for the Star

Her young career has already been filled with so many milestone moments. She has seen her dreams come full circle, most recently playing the Grand Ole Opry for the first time, something she promised herself she would do more than a decade ago.

“I got to play on my birthday, October 18, and it was such a special day,” she says. “There’s a home video of me as a little kid, first time going to the Grand Ole Opry. I was 10 years old, side stage, and I look at the camera and I’m like, ‘I’m gonna be there.’”

That night, all those years ago, she watched Luke Bryan perform “Rain Is a Good Thing” on the legendary stage. Little did she know then, Bryan would be the one to call her and tell her she would be making her Opry debut in October 2022.

For her debut, she performed a song from her past, one she had written at the age of 12 – before Nashville, before any publishing deals, just dreams. “I decided to play the song because I was just thinking back on younger me dreaming these dreams,” she explains. “I wanted to … just have a moment and be like, ‘This is for her, this is for little me.’”

Now, Springsteen is closing out her chapter as an independent artist. She has recently been teasing her full-length debut album as a signed artist, promising more music is on its way. The singer will release her forthcoming project via Columbia New York/Sony Music Nashville. Get a sample of what’s next for Springsteen in her Instagram post below.

“It’s a cool season,” she says of this next chapter. “As I kind of close the book on History of Breaking Up and what that was … coming out of writing about all this heartbreak, this relationship stuff that I needed to get out. I’m going through so much change every day.” She describes her writing recently as “just processing this coming-of-age.”

“I’m feeling the weight of what it means to be releasing my debut album,” she says of upcoming project Twenty Something. “I’ve been living these songs for the past few years. They’re my journal entries. I might as well be releasing my most private thoughts to the world, so there are some nerves mixed in there too.”

An album that Springsteen has revealed will be released in three parts – the first titled Messing It UpTwenty Something will be another deeply personal work from the artist. It’s riddled with songs that touch on her insecurities and self-defenses and shed light on the ups, the downs, and all the in-betweens. “There are songs on Twenty Something that still make me uncomfortable when I hear them,” she says.

“I’ve been on this wild journey of self-discovery and I’ve realized that everything has been falling into three stages of growth for me, so it made sense to reveal these songs in three consecutive parts,” she continues. “For everyone who found me and my music during the History of Breaking Up era, my hope is that these songs continue to help you grow from the hurt and accompany you on your journey to finding your truest self and living the most fulfilling life you can.”

She explains the upcoming project will pick up where History of Breaking Up (Part Two) left off. “It should feel kind of familiar,” she adds. “But it comes from a more self-aware, confident, and hopeful place. I’m so ready to tell these stories.” 

Photo by Lily Nelson / Courtesy of Sweet Talk PR

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