Country artist Curtis Braly is done trying to conform to the likes and expectations of others. Today (September 16) the small-town Texas native is premiering a new single “Happy When You’re Sad.”
The message, he tells American Songwriter is, “Stop trying to force something that isn’t real and start making your own happiness a priority. It’s ok to love someone and want to be there for them and support them, but not at the sacrifice of your own happiness.”
Upon first listen, Braly drew parallels from every line of the Will Bowen and Tofer Brown-penned track. One that “slapped [him] in the face” was: He breaks your heart / I’ll put it back together / Just like a broken record. In a similar vein, the artist points to another gut-punch line: All this back & forth / Like a tug-of-war / But no one ever really wins.
Reflecting on the relatable lyrics, Braly shares, “I think most of us have been in a position where we know we are in a relationship that isn’t ‘real’ but yet we continue to abuse ourselves trying to hold on to the possibility that it will eventually come to fruition.”
Lyrically, the message is an honest reflection of Braly’s own experience, but also creates space for all listeners to hear parts of their own story throughout. The subject of the song is addressed as “he”—a practice that has not yet become commonplace in the genre.
His latest music video for “That Should Be Me” saw the gay country singer opening up about his identity and the adversity he faced while remaining true to who he is. The idea, he shares, is by being his most authentic self, he can upend social standards and stigmas in a seemingly traditional genre space.
Having shared the stage with industry icons like Dolly Parton and Tanya Tucker, Braly takes a page from the books of their enduring artistry. These women—whom he describes as “strong” and “amazing” taught him “determination, resilience, hard work, and the importance of being true to yourself.”
“You get them exactly the way they are,” he continues. “You can either love them or hate them. But with the honesty and transparency that they deliver you can’t help but love them—or, at the very least respect them.”
Finally, out from under external industry efforts to shape his sound and message, “Happy When You’re Sad” continues to shine a light on a pivotal moment in both his personal life and music career.
“For too long, I bended and molded who I was to keep others happy and it ended up making me miserable,” says Braly. “The music I’ve been making lately is a celebration of breaking those chains off that were holding me back.”
Pre-save Curtis Braly’s “Happy When You’re Sad” and listen exclusively below.