“‘Last Time’ is about blindly loving someone, fantasizing a future and realizing none of that was ever real,” Parker Graye tells American Songwriter. “It’s about losing someone, and more than that, mourning the loss of something you never really had. If you’ve loved, lost, forgiven and repeated, I hope this song finds you.”
Considering the world-class tact of the piano-led arrangement and the timeless wisdom of her words, it’s hard to believe that “Last Time”—out June 21—is only Graye’s third single. Hailing from Canada with a impassioned love for the tear-jerking greats of classic country, she’s devoted herself to crafting songs with the same level of heartworn honesty as her heroes.
“My goals as a songwriter have always been to share my personal experiences as authentically as possible and for listeners to truly feel something,” she explained. “Unsolicitedly unlock that dusty, metal filing cabinet in the back of their mind and pull out a memory that they’d once buried or forgotten. My songs are heartbreaking with a hint of hope, raw and honest. From song to song I bounce between the traditional country storytelling and conversational pop, always including a moment or two that cuts deep, the feeling of gripping the blade end of a sharp knife.”
Even the way Graye delivers prose is mesmerizing, weaving images and ideas together to form an evocative tapestry… in a lot of ways, that mirrors her songwriting itself. For “Last Time,” specifically, her inspiration came from a less-than-ideal wind up with a former lover.
“I was in a relationship with a guy who was never all-in,” she began. “We spent years back and forth—him chasing me, me chasing him—all the while I wasn’t the only girl on his radar. When we were happy, man, were we happy. We’d been brought back into each other’s lives so many times, I was convinced it was for a reason. The typical toxic relationship that you never leave until you’re in far too deep. I was in love with him, his family, the future we hadn’t yet created, I really thought this was the guy but we just needed time. He was moving back to his hometown to work on the farm and the day before he officially left, I had a gut instinct something was up. To my surprise, I discovered there was someone else… I was completely broken. Pleading for this to stop and to move forward together, I said to him ‘This is the last time’ and he agreed that it would be the last. Sadly, it wasn’t the last time.”
With her heart crushed, Graye did what most songwriters would do, especially in the canon of tenderhearted country: she got busy writing. Sitting down with her collaborator, Luca Fogle, “Last Time” fell right out, almost as if it was meant to be. But, at first, Graye wasn’t so sure she was going to share such an intimate song.
“I wrote this song with Luca in 2019, only days after the final breakup with the farm boy,” Graye said. “We took texts, the future I’d painted in my mind, the years of dishonesty and emptied it all onto paper. It was the most vulnerable, real and raw I’d ever been in a session, it exposed a part of me as an artist, songwriter and woman that I never knew existed. The song meant so much to me that I was afraid of even bringing it to life, fearful that it wouldn’t sound like I was hearing it, until I met Spencer Cheyne. We spent two days in the studio and it truly felt cathartic. I barely held back tears on every take and bawled my eyes out on every playback.”
Ultimately though, it took seeing first-hand the power of music for Graye to feel ready to share “Last Time” with the world. “Releasing ‘Last Time’ was never my plan,” she said. “But I played it at a showcase in March of 2020 and while performing it, I noticed how silent the room was. It almost felt like no one was there at all… that’s when I knew. This song really does mean so much to me and I hope that it connects with people who have been through similar situations.”
Parker Graye’s new single “Last Time” is out now and available everywhere. Listen to it below: