For the past four years, fans of ABC Family’s hit teen drama, Pretty Little Liars, have known Lucy Hale as Aria Montgomery, a small town high-school student tormented by an unknown figure named “A” following the “death” of her friend Alison. Although fans may be well acquainted with the version of Hale that exists inside the fictional town of Rosewood, they may not be familiar with the version of Hale that exists in the real world: a 24-year-old, Memphis, TN-native with a music background (check out YouTube for a young Lucy on the 2003 American Idol spinoff, American Juniors) and plenty of stories to tell. Luckily for Hale, she finally has the chance to share this side of herself on her debut album, Road Between.
Co-written by a number of notable country music artists, songwriters and producers (Kacey Musgraves, Hillary Lindsey, Mike Daly),Road Between is an impressive collection of tracks that showcases both Hale’s voice and personality. Musically, it is a solid pop-country album that is simple in its form, but original and refreshing in the way that it’s presented. While the album’s songwriters may have written for other top country artists before (Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood and Blake Shelton, just to name a few), the songs presented on Road Between were destined for Hale. Despite slight similarities to some works by the aforementioned artists, the lyrical content and Hale’s interpretation of it is what makes Road Between an exceptional debut.
Like most women in their early twenties, Hale has had her share of personal insecurities, relationships, breakups and moments of self-discovery. One of the most candid moments on the album comes in the form of “Nervous Girls,” an emotional, yet subtle ballad that allows Hale to face her insecurities while persuading listeners to do the same. Hale soars in vulnerable moments like this (“Road Between” is another perfect example), but the album’s lighter moments are where she truly shines.
From the album’s first single (the endlessly enjoyable “You Sound Good To Me”) to the incredibly catchy “Kiss Me” (try not to sing along to the line “Don’t you know I want you with me/and it ain’t just ‘cause I’m tipsy”), Road Between is packed with relatable love songs. Many aspects of love and relationships are represented here, including the fairytale moments (“Red Dress” feat. Joe Nichols), the simplicity of young love (the vivid “From The Backseat”), the post-breakup revenge (the Miranda Lambert/Carrie Underwood-esque “Goodbye Gone”) and even the occasional fling (“Love Tonight”).
On “That’s What I Call Crazy” (co-written by Grammy Award-winner Kacey Musgraves), Hale reaches a moment of clarity in both the album and her own life when she realizes exactly what makes a person “crazy” in a relationship. On an album full of songs about love and heartbreak, this may just be the one important enough to connect Hale to the new fan base that she deserves.
As Road Between closes with the nostalgic and beautifully orchestrated “Just Another Song,” Hale is finally in her element as she sings the heartbreaking words that she co-wrote herself. It’s an impeccable end to a promising new beginning for Lucy Hale.
Lauren Mahaffy is a Syracuse, NY native and a recent graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in music business. As much as she would love to be in LA eating burgers at In-N-Out and working at a record label, she is currently spending some time at home with her dog, Princess Sparkle. When she is not job hunting, she can be found binge-watching TV shows on Netflix, posting funny gifs on Tumblr, and singing Miley Cyrus songs in the car. Read her embarrassing tweets @laurenmahaffy