Hometown means different things to different people. Out of Norway, Americana singer-songwriter Malin Pettersen juggles various definitions ─ including “norms and expectations but also safety and motivation,” she says ─ with her new song, “Hometown.”
Premiering today on American Songwriter, the jangly and dusty western tune details her own “personal freedom” and anchors a forthcoming studio album, Wildhorse, coming October 16. “[This song is] about telling myself that I am running this… my life… and then actually going out and living it,” she explains over email. “You yourself can get so caught up in those norms and expectations sometimes that you don’t even see the potential and possibilities that lie beyond.”
“I left my worries in my hometown,” she coos with an unmistakable timbre. “The people there have really gotten me down / If you’ve been through it, you know what I mean / It’s the same ole people.”
Make no mistake, “Hometown” isn’t exactly about “bashing on an actual hometown,” she stresses, “but it describes a reaction to the ideas, habits, and social structures a ‘hometown’ can entail.”
“It’s about reminding myself that I shouldn’t worry about that too much,” Pettersen continues. “I just want to know that I tried and that I didn’t stop myself because I got too caught up in the way things have always been done.”
Recorded at Music City U.S.A., Pettersen’s Wildhorse brings together a smorgasbord of superstar talent, including Misa Arriaga (Kacey Musgraves), Ryan A. Keith, Aaron Goodrich (Colter Wall), Eddy Dunlap (Jon Pardi, Clay Walker), and Logan Ledger.
In an initial jam session with Arriaga, Keith, Goodrich, and Lucky Lips guitarist Stian Sveen, Pettersen proposed a proper recording session to the group. “We were up all night playing Freddy Fender and George Jones and some original stuff,” she recalls of the last night of AmericanaFest 2018. “When I asked the guys if they’d be open to having me come back and actually record some material for a release there, I was thrilled they were up for it.”
With initial recording starting in February 2019, the groundwork had been all but completed seven months later. Mike Eli (of Eli Young Band), Ben Sanders, and Dennis Crouch (co-founder of the Time Jumpers) were then enlisted for final touches. “I cried in the studio the day Dennis was there,” admits Pettersen.
“I had never pictured myself recording in Nashville. I hadn’t even been there before 2018, and I thought the city itself would be very different from what I found it to be,” she explains of recording. “And when I had that truly unique experience of hanging out in that studio that night in 2018 – recording as if in a music documentary from the ‘60s or ‘70s… kickass players, kickass gear, and everyone solely focused on the music.”
Wildhorse is slated for release October 16 via Die with Your Boots on Records.
Listen to “Hometown” below.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Vivaas Kise