Off The Record: Natalie Hemby Reflects on the Years-Long Journey to Her Triumphant Sophomore LP, ‘Pins And Needles’

“I ended up getting a record deal during the pandemic, which is so strange,” Natalie Hemby said on the most recent episode of American Songwriters Off The Record. “Never mind that in my early 20s, I wanted a deal for all those years—for some reason, my time was during the pandemic at 43 years old. That’s when I got my record deal.”

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Finding a home at Fantasy Records in the midst of the shifting currents of the pandemic, Hemby—one of the four Highwomen, who also made a name for herself as an acclaimed songwriter—began finalizing the details for her second studio album, Pins And Needles, which dropped this past October.

“I had so many doors shut when I was younger when it came to my artistry and getting a deal,” Hemby reflected. “So, I just wanted to know if [Fantasy Records] was genuinely in. I really cared about the project, but I didn’t know what it would look like [at the time] because we didn’t know what was happening. Everything was shut down, we didn’t know when people were going to tour again. But, it did allow me and my husband [producer, Mike Wrucke] to fine-tune everything.”

That extra time to get everything fine-tuned was much-appreciated. See, while Pins And Needles might be a “new release” and only the second from Hemby’s solo output, it’s a project the now-44-year-old has been working on for years. The title track, for example, was written a decade ago in a session with Brothers Osborne—when they didn’t use it, Hemby took it and kept it in her back pocket, hoping that someday this project would come to fruition.

“A lot of the songs on this record have been that way,” she explained. “But a good song is timeless. It doesn’t matter what era it falls under or what kind of production it has—if it’s a great song, it’ll stand the test of time. I just wanted to bring it back and basically let this be the record I never really got to make. I’m proud of it. It was made over time, and I think you can tell that.” 

Throughout the episode, Hemby also touched on the process of writing these songs, touching on the help she gets from her husband, Mike Wrucke. Talking too about her experiences in The Highwoman, her stylistic influences, the healing potential of songwriting, and more.

Watch the full episode below:

Photo by Alysse Gafjken

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