Singer/songwriter Allie Colleen might be expected to have a few things in common musically with her father—he is, after all, country legend Garth Brooks. But the truth would be almost the opposite; while she grew up loving music as anyone might, her father’s music wasn’t really a major influence on her own artistry, and his impact on the industry wasn’t really a part of her childhood. Instead, she has chosen to carve her own contemporary country path, releasing original singles for the past three years after earning a degree in songwriting and the music business at Nashville’s Belmont University.
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Allie Colleen’s first full-length album, Stones, was released last week, initially in physical form only, and features the lead single, “Playin’ House,” which is available for streaming. Written with Nashville writing friends Billy Dawson (Adley Stump, Jess McEntire) and Jason Matthews (Gretchen Wilson, Luke Bryan), the song is a story of domestic discord that does have one thing in common with her dad’s music, in that it uses a pedal steel guitar. Allie Colleen called American Songwriter from her home in Nashville to talk about the song and some advice she took from her dad.
“I got really lucky writing with Billy and Jason,” she said. “’Playin’ House’ was an idea I probably took into five co-writes, and [other writers] just weren’t digging it, or whatever the case was, nobody had written it with me. I showed it to Billy and Jason and they ended up writing it with me, and I’m so glad they did, it came out perfect. It’s really the song that we’ve had the longest out of a whole bunch of songs. It was March 2019 when we sat down and wrote this song, and we really wanted to lead the new album with this one.”
One noticeable influence her father has possibly had on her: the same way Garth often does, Allie Colleen frequently uses the word “we” instead of “I” when she talks about anything career related, always making sure other people are given due credit for her successes.
Where most artists can run a list of people who influenced their work, she doesn’t really name many people when asked about who inspires her. She’s almost effervescent, though, when speaking about one country artist who also happens to share her affinity for tattoos.
“I think Ashley McBryde is the coolest cowboy on the planet,” she said. “I think she’s so awesome. To see somebody like Ashley McBryde, writing the stuff that she writes about, produce the way she does, she doesn’t sound like anybody else—that’s been a huge motivator for me. I absolutely love to watch her do what she does.”
“Vocally, there’s really nobody I think I sound like,” she continued, “and I don’t really look like anybody either. And I’ve got a lot of tattoos, and that’s not really present a lot in country music. A lot of people like to talk to me about them after shows, and they find out it’s about Scripture, my tattoos are Biblical, something I’m proud of.”
Where some artists build their careers walking through doors that are open because of connections in the family business, Allie Colleen has chosen to chart her own course. But that doesn’t mean her father hasn’t given her a few pointers along the way. “I don’t really have [those] business connections,” she said. “But ever since I was a kid, my dad has taught me basically one lesson, and that’s to put your head down and work. If I wasn’t where I wanted to be where I was in soccer, it’s because I didn’t work. If I wasn’t where I wanted to be in school, or with my friends, or just with myself, the answer was always to put my head down and work. So it never really crossed my mind to do it any other kind of way.”