Jordyn Shellhart Invites Vulnerability From Her Listeners In Label Debut Album, ‘Primrose’
This project is 15 years in the making.
Jorydn Shellhart; Photo by Jory Lee Cordy
Jordyn Shellhart moved to Nashville 15 years ago to pursue her dreams and in the process, developed an impressive repertoire of music that she’s been waiting to share with the world. That moment is finally here because Shellhart’s label debut album, Primrose, has finally arrived.
As a Wyoming native who stems from a long line of cowboys, cowgirls and ranchers, she may not be living the exact same lifestyle as some of her family members have in the past, but the singer/songwriter still draws heavily from her roots to produce meaningful country music. Primrose, which derives from the Latin ‘prima rosa,’ serves as a further introduction to her past as well as who she’s becoming as an artist today.
The project is produced by Cameron Jaymes and features 12 tracks, nine of which Shellhart co-wrote and three that she self-penned.
As listeners make their way through the collection, it becomes clear that Shellhart’s music has a way of uncovering a truth that someone may not have even realized they had buried inside themselves. She offers relief from the everyday stresses of life while also providing a sense of comfort and the opportunity to feel all the different layers of emotions that come about.
Shellhart set the tone for her upcoming project through a series of songs that showcase the effects of toxic love stories in “Who Are You Mad At,” “Tell Your Mother I’m Fine,” and “When Something’s Gotta Give,” as well as her latest unveiling of “Joni.”
“I really do feel like I only recorded songs that I would feel comfortable releasing as singles. I just, I didn’t want there to be anything that I was like, ‘ah, but not that one. That one’s too x, y, and z.’ So I was really open about what we put out first, and I sort of was just like following advice and sort of just listening to people’s responses,” she explained to Country Now, while discussing the songs she chose to release first.
“But it felt like, ‘Who Are You Mad At’ as a first song was a good first reveal because, it was, I don’t know, it’s a thinker, but it feels really good and nice and if you’re not really paying attention, you can still enjoy it sort of thing, but if you do dig a little bit beneath the surface, you might glean something from it so that one felt natural.”
Throughout these tracks, plus the reminder of brand-new releases, she uses her elegant vocals and raw melodic tones to conquer themes of loneliness, hope for a lost cause, heartbreak and more.
The rising country singer has proved her abilities as a budding songwriter and artist who’s willing to deliver an outpouring of passion into her work. Pulling from the depths of her creativity, she curates a work of pure artistry that will take listeners on a unique musical journey.
Catching up with Country Now, Jordyn Shellhart broke down the makings of her new album, gave an inside look into her country music roots, revealed her goals as an artist and more.
Keep reading to learn more about the rising artist in this Q&A.
Your label debut album is named Primrose, which is not a title on the track list. So where did that title come from?
Primrose is, it’s derived from the Latin “prima rosa,” which means first Rose. I was just sort of thinking about that as a word and just feeling like this is the first musical offering in this spring of my life, and I just thought that it was appropriate. Also, it’s such a feminine word and I feel like this album in so many ways is just a feminine perspective. And so, I just liked the way it sounded and I liked this idea of, you know, primroses are typically the first flowers to bloom in spring. So this is my first bloom.
What was it like for you to put together this album during the pandemic?
I had been a songwriter for a while and one of the people I had written with quite a bit was Cameron, who produced my album. And through just writing for other people, writing for other artists, he like wanted to make an album. And I’d always had the thought in my mind of making my own album, but for various reasons just hadn’t really pulled the trigger. So when the pandemic hit, I just called him and was like, “I think I’m ready.” So we made it. We couldn’t hang out or see anybody. So it made it easy on us.
Starting with the leading track, “Amelia,” who is Amelia and what is this song about?
So the song is really about, I mean, the insidious nature of abuse. It’s sung from the perspective of someone who’s sort of manipulating this person named Amelia in real-time. I just thought that a sort of simple way to illustrate that would be to just change someone’s name. So he’s just telling her like, “I’m gonna call you Amy. I know you don’t like it, but that’s what I wanna call you.” It just felt like this way of sort of simplifying this idea of changing who a person is or telling a person who they really are and sort of, I don’t know, just knocking their trust in themselves to the point where maybe they are forgetting who they are too. So that’s sort of the idea behind it is just this illustration of changing her name from Amelia to Amy.
That song, especially, but this collection as a whole, it has a very therapeutic energy to it as you showcase a lot of different raw emotions throughout the tracks. Was that kind of your goal going into the album?
I wouldn’t even call it a goal so much as just an instinct. That’s just sort of how I write. I never really set out to do that. That’s just kind of like what happens when I make stuff. And I now retrospectively I can look at this body of work and think, I’m really glad that it’s confessional or that it’s vulnerable because what I’ve found is that my vulnerability in these songs tends to invite vulnerability from other people. So I’m sort of, yeah, in retrospect, I’m grateful for that, but it wasn’t really a goal as so much as just a natural approach to artistry.
What are you hoping people will take away from listening to this set of songs?
You know, I had my publisher, Tom Douglas, who’s a brilliant songwriter, he and I were talking the other day because I had been at this concert, which was this amazing show of like this artist who’s sort of a party, I don’t know, it’s like a good time. And I was watching this audience respond to this artist just like so grateful and needing that reprieve from life and that relief. I was telling my publisher Tom, like, “I feel insecure right now because I just feel like what I’m doing is picking at wounds and just sort of digging up scabs rather than providing that sense of like relief and just a break on a Friday night, you know?” And he said to me, “some artists live life for Friday night to Sunday night,” he’s like, “but guess what? Monday always rolls around and you make music from Monday to Thursday.” He goes, “that artist, they’re calling is to help people forget who they are and you’re calling is to help people remember.” I think that’s a long-winded answer, but it’s been on my mind cause that was just something he said to me a couple of days ago and I guess I hope that it helps people remember who they are.
How would you say your Wyoming background influences your music?
I mean, my family have just been country music lovers for generations, and I come from, you know, my family, all before my mom’s generation been ranchers and cowboys and cowgirls. So that’s my past and my roots. My mom grew up returning to that every summer and I was sort of the first generation to not be growing up in a ranch context. So it’s there and that’s why I’m in country music is because of my family’s sort of relation to it. It’s important. Now, can I ride a horse? No, I can’t. I have gotten away from the roots a little bit, but it still shows up, obviously, in the fact that I’m here making country music. So I’m grateful for all of that.
One of your other songs, “Joni,” is centered around the artist, Joni Mitchell. So what is it about her that inspired you to write this?
Sort of a, it’s halfway a joke, but it’s serious, too close to home at the same time. I was writing with a couple of friends, Cameron and Savana Santos, we were just talking about how sometimes, you know, you just take something out on somebody and they might think, “what did I do wrong?” but it’s like, actually nothing. I’m just having a crazy moment. And for us as songwriters, we were just talking about how sometimes this frustration of not being like your heroes are not feeling like you’re creating as well as so-and-so can really affect your actual real life and your real relationship. So we were sort of just making fun of ourselves and Joni Mitchell is definitely that for me. And for Savana too, I think just like she’s one of the best of all times, so sometimes you hear it and you’re like, “Man, I’m missing the mark here.”
The cover art looks very different than what we typically see because it’s not just a photo of you, but instead, it looks like a painting. Can you talk about the creative thinking behind this image and how it fits in with the project?
Well, I have a friend in Ireland. His name’s Ross Wilson, and he’s an incredible painter and visual artist. Actually, he’s painted the portrait for King Charles that’s in Buckingham Palace, and he made the famous CS Lewis sculpture in Belfast as a memorial to Lewis, who’s from Belfast. He’s just this brilliant, brilliant visual artist. So we had talked about maybe a painting as the cover, and I thought he would probably say no, but I asked him and he was willing to paint that. So I just feel like the expression that he captured in the portrait, just her perfectly captures, I feel like, the sentiment behind somehow every one of these songs in a different way. So he’s just a brilliant addition to the project.
What has the response been from fans who are getting to know you from the songs that you have already released off this album?
Well, that’s been the interesting thing about putting out an album, like when nobody actually knows who I am, it’s sort of like this is the first thing. So it’s sort of like you need to have the album out for anyone to discover your music. But then it’s like a chicken or egg situation. So yeah, I’m just rolling.
Fans can keep up with Jordyn Shellhart on Instagram.
Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.