Lauren Daigle Debuts New Music at Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe

Lauren Daigle shared insight into her songwriting process and debuted new music during an intimate set at Nashville’s famed The Bluebird Cafe on Tuesday night (August 8). Her 90-minute set as part of BMI at the Bluebird Presents Lauren Daigle saw the singer/songwriter perform 10 songs off her forthcoming self-titled album alongside several of her collaborators.

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“There is no better place to watch songwriters pour their hearts out and listen to the stories behind the songs than the historic Bluebird Cafe,” BMI’s VP of Creative, Nashville Clay Bradley said ahead of Daigle’s performance.

For Daigle, who first tried to get into the Bluebird as a fan nine years ago, Tuesday’s set was a full-circle moment. “I love the way this place feels. I love the history here,” she said. “Thank you to BMI for being a part of this, for letting me share my record with you guys in this type of setting … the history that this place evokes.”

Executive producer Mike Elizondo and songwriters Natalie Hemby, Jason Ingram, Jon Green, Tofer Brown, Ellie Holcomb and Grant Pittman shared the stage with Daigle throughout the evening, which was also livestreamed. Here are four takeaways from Daigle’s memorable set. 

“21 Days” was producer Mike Elizondo’s “audition”

Daigle was joined by co-writers Hemby and Elizondo for her performance of the introspective “21 Days.” Elizondo recalled Hemby asking Daigle about what was going on in her life at the start of their writing session. “Nine times out of 10 that’s what turns into the song and you had this whole thing about 21 days,” Elizondo recalled. “It also was the first song we cut for the album. I like to call it my audition.”

Added Hemby: “She had been on this theme of 21 days and some people talk about how it takes 21 days to change a process or there’s a 21-day fast. There’s all these significant things behind 21 days and I was like, ‘We have to write a song about this whole experience you’re going through.’ 

​​”A lot of times whenever you’re writing you don’t always come in with an idea,” Hemby further explained. “You don’t always come in with a melody. And honestly, we started from the ground up on that song completely. But it was so fun because Mike would just get on and start playing and he would let us, both Lauren and I, freestyle. Then he would take pieces of it and be like, ‘That line right there needs to be this melody here.’ It was so magical.”

On embracing ballads

After a powerful performance of “Love Me Still,” which was inspired in part by co-writer Ingram seeing graffiti on the walls of New Orleans with the words “Love Me Still,” Daigle admitted she tried her best to shy away from ballads for her upcoming record.

“I remember thinking, ‘Ugh, another ballad. Come on. I’ve done that already. I’m not trying to be Adele over here. She’s got it locked,’” Daigle said with a laugh. She then explained that after doing a VIP hang and performing “Love Me Still” for the audience and seeing their reaction her feelings on ballads changed.

“Whenever we got to this song [in the setlist], every person in there, it was like the moment that the train hit them,” she recalled. “That was also the moment that I was like, ‘I think I might sing ballads forever.’ I had a love-hate relationship with them my whole life because I’m really silly and they make me really serious and I don’t like to be serious. I like to have fun. So every now and then those moments take me by surprise where I’m like, ‘Wow, wait a second. There’s something tucked in this that feels innate.’ Sometimes we try to wrestle and fight against the things that are just actually innately a part of us. We want to see a change or an evolution, but sometimes the wiring is just the way it’s meant to be. To accept that is a little bit easier sometimes than to fight it.”

On finding a song idea

The first time Daigle and Brown got together to write a song was a struggle. While they didn’t record the song they initially penned, they pushed through to get the confessional piano ballad “Sometimes.”

“I was about to pass out because we sat there for four hours trying to get a song idea down,” Daigle recalled of the start of the writing session. “If you’re waiting for four hours for a song idea, it’s not a good idea. I remember getting to this point of, ‘I’m going to pass out if I don’t eat.’”

The pair ordered food and then Brown started to tell Daigle about a breakup he’d gone through. “We just wrote about real life,” Brown said. “Uncertainty of relationships.”

Added Daigle: “That was the first time I ever wrote about anything personal like that. That was really exciting. And we tracked this vocal with a lump in my throat and that is the vocal.” 

Getting out of your own way while creating

Daigle said Elizondo pushed her both vocally and creatively while working on her self-titled album, which will be released on September 8. In fact, she didn’t realize she was singing certain parts of the album’s final song, “You’re All I’ll Take With Me,” when she heard it played back for the first time.

“I said to him, ‘Oh my gosh, that girl sounds so good. Who did you get to come and do that stuff?’ And he’s like, ‘Lauren, that is you,’” she recalled with a laugh. “That is a testament to how far out of myself this guy got me in the writing in the creation process. He brought me to places that my voice has always longed to go to, and I just didn’t know how to get there. And he was the vehicle for that. Sometimes you have to get out of your own way in the process of making things and he shepherded me through that experience.

“Lyrically, you guys were so kind because I had lost my grandfather,” she told her co-writers. “I remember getting in the room and one of y’all said, ‘What about loss?’ … I just remember that being a sobering thought, but also the anchor point. This song is really beautiful to me because it’s from the vantage point of my grandmother. … We wrote these lyrics from the standpoint of my grandmother saying this about the experience of losing her husband of 60 years. They were inseparable. They met going to Europe and came back on the Queen Elizabeth.”

(Photo Credit: Annie Reuter / American Songwriter)

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