It was August of 2019 when Danielle Bradbery headed to her Instagram to share a black and white picture of her in the arms of a new man.
“I think I know what picture you are talking about,” she tells American Songwriter during a recent interview following the release of her new single “Never Have I Ever.” “It was actually his first concert of mine and I performed in Thousand Oaks, California and he’s from southern California and that was the night he asked me to be his girlfriend.”
Bradbery smiles that smile you smile while you are in love, and then she continues.
“I was on cloud nine and he definitely swept me off my feet,” Bradbery gushed. “It definitely changes the way I write. You will hear that in my music for sure. I’ll be more happy. “
Indeed, much of Bradbery’s sophomore album I Don’t Believe We’ve Met touched on a tad more heartbreak and a whole lot more insecurities.
But those days are officially behind her.
“I jumped into songwriting super heavy for my last album because I had never done that before,” said the Texas native, who recently released a socially distant music video for “Never Have I Ever.” “And songwriting for that album helped me be more honest and more vulnerable and confident with myself. From then till now, I have gotten to be single and gotten to focus on myself, and then unexpectedly I met someone else.”
That someone else is Bennett Jonas.
“I’m super happy with him,” Bradbery explains. “I feel more confident now. “Never Have I Ever” is definitely one of my more braver songs, more sexy and more vulnerable. I’m always going to continue to show that side of me.”
And while many have assumed that “Never Have I Ever” was written with Bradbery’s new man in mind, it actually was written before the 23-year-old got the courage to slide into the Californian’s DMs.
“I was super lucky to be in the room with them,” Bradbery said of the song she co-wrote alongside Laura Veltz and David Hall Hodges. “Laura actually had the title ‘Never Have I Ever’ in her phone. I was single and I wasn’t dating around, and I was, you know, this feel was something I was hoping for. And what the song is about is meeting somebody that’s making you feel like you’ve never felt before, and they’re completely sweeping you off your feet, and I was just hoping for that. I was hoping for somebody to come in and just save me from what I went through with the second record.”
And then, he came true.
And now, everything has changed, including her songwriting for her upcoming album.
“It’s still going to be country — my heart’s always going to be country — but I’m going to try to sprinkle in a little bit of R&B instead of, like, the pop-country,” the singer explains. “I feel like R&B has been in country longer than a lot of people realize.”
And whether in love or not, age has allowed the winner of Season 4 of NBC’s The Voice to mature in every way one can, including within the writing room.
“Going in to write a song, my main mindset is, ‘let’s get a good song’,” says Bradbery, who has toured with the likes of everyone from Kane Brown to Blake Shelton to Miranda Lambert. “Let’s just get out of our heads that we need to write a hit or write a single. Obviously those are priorities for sure, but it gets me stressed and I can’t focus when I have that in my head. I want to write about this thing that’s happened in my life or something that is really honest and vulnerable. Let’s write about something that has actually happened. I’m all about that. I try to stay as honest as possible and then the rest kind of flows however it does naturally.”
And while the pandemic has left Bradbery feeling a tad uneasy regarding a somewhat unknown future, it has left her time to get back to the basics, like work on the new record, road trip with the new boyfriend and give her soul some much-needed attention.
“It’s been a cool time to focus on myself,” concludes Bradbery, who has yet to confirm a date for her next album’s release. “I’m just loving being as creative as possible right now.”