Elle King on ‘Come Get Your Wife’: “Country Music Felt Like Home”

With the release of her album Come Get Your Wife (Jan. 27), Elle King has made the daring decision to completely shift gears into country music. While making that leap would be a daunting task for any artist, King has been slowly working up to this release since 2016, and, judging by the conviction found in this album, she is right where she belongs.

Videos by American Songwriter

The record is a 12-track ode to her roots, love, and personal journey. On top of being earnest storytelling pieces, they have the cadence of songs made to amp up a night out, allowing them to work twofold. Wherever and however one chooses to listen to Come Get Your Wife, you’ll find it becomes an apt soundtrack.

The album opens up with a nod to her family. Given that it was King’s brother that ignited her affair with country music in the first place, the choice seems only natural.

“I didn’t know who Dierks Bentley was,” King tells American Songwriter. “I called my brother because he listens to country music, and he was like, ‘It’s Dierks Bentley, Ellie, you have to do that song!’”

The song in question was the 2016 release “Different For Girls.” The mid-tempo ballad set King firmly on the path she is on now, eventually landing her a duet with Miranda Lambert titled “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home).” After that song dominated the Country Airplay Chart, King could no longer be considered a dabbler in the country space—she was well on her way to becoming a fixture.  

While earning No. 1’s is inspiring enough for any artist, it was the country fandom that pushed King to continue on in the same vein as “Drunk.”

“Country fans are very different than the other fans that I had experienced,” she adds. “They all reminded me of my brother, my sister, my family, my cousins, my nephews, my nieces. I felt this connection that felt like home.

“I owe so much of this life-changing experience in country to my brother,” she adds. “I wanted to honor that and celebrate my family. So I guess all of it sort of boils down to, ‘I hope my brother thinks I’m cool.’”

While she pens a love letter to her roots in the album’s opener “Ohio,” elsewhere she details the rest of her journey, grinning and bearing the messier parts with marked confidence. In “Before You Met Me” she accepts the person she used to be, despite feeling like a changed woman. In “Try Jesus” she takes a new lease on life and tries to find the light in a string of regrettable relationships. 

Being open about her past wasn’t a conscious goal for King—it was second nature. 

“Showcasing my messy parts – that comes easy,” she says. “I think that there’s a lot of strength and vulnerability in that. I am as open as I ever have been in my life.”

For largely the first time in her career, King got songs from outside writers. A process she feels is distinct of Nashville, given the wealth of talent that is around every corner. While focusing on having her first child, she looked to writers like 23-year-old Ella Langley. 

“We probably wrote eight songs in two days,” King says. “The second day, I walked on the bus and Ella [Langley] said ‘I have this idea for a chorus: Tulsa spelled backward.’”

“I know my strengths,” she continues. “I’m a funny, quirky verse writer. It’s really fun to collaborate for a wild hook. That was Ella’s idea and she’s just fucking genius. We laughed our asses off.”

The chorus reads: He went back to Tulsa / Put some miles on that adios Tacoma / And I ain’t talkin’ Oklahoma / ‘Cause it ain’t what you think / But if you spell it back to front you gonna know what I mean. 

If you need help solving the riddle: Tulsa spelled backward is “A Slut.” A cleverly coded dig at an ex. 

“What’s important about that song is, yes, Tulsa spelled backward is ‘a slut,’ but I don’t ever want to attack women or take any steps backward for us,” she says. “We still have it hard enough as it is. I really wanted to take a moment in the song to be smart and say, ‘it’s not you, it’s the guy in this instance.’ The guy is cheating on me. It’s his fault and you should be careful.

“I always say ‘however a relationship starts is probably how it ends,” she adds.

The album closes with a belted ballad titled “Love Go By.” King penned the song years ago but, brought it back out towards the end of the writing process and found it to be just the ticket to round out the record.   

“‘Drunk’ taught me to get out of the way of a song and to let things have their own life,” she says. “I had completely forgotten that I had written ‘Love Go By.’

“It’s interesting how you can put some pedal steel down and immediately it’s a good country song,” she continues. “I mean, look at Dolly and Whitney Houston on ‘I Will Always Love You.’ A good song you can do in so many different ways.”

Taking things back to her brother’s influence, a last-minute addition to the album came from Tyler Childers. His TikTok-approved demo of “Jersey Giant” was enough for his label to insist the song get a wider release. After Childers passed on releasing the song himself, he gave the number to King—the only person he would let record the song. 

“It was an opportunity for me to continue producing,” she says of the song. “I wanted to mix my sound with traditional bluegrass. I really wanted to make Tyler and my brother proud. It’s a beautiful song.” 

Watch King discuss all of this and more in our full conversation with the soon-to-be-country-superstar, below.

Photo by Matthew Berinato / Press On Publicity

Leave a Reply

Review: Anticipation—Carly Simon’s New Album Finds Her Coming Around Again