Q&A: Alex Hall Talks Debut Album, ‘Side Effects Of The Heart’
“I just hope that people can see themselves in these songs and connect with it in that capacity,” Hall shares of the project.
Alex Hall; Photo by Dustin Haney
Alex Hall recently released his debut album, Side Effects Of The Heart.
The 10-track project takes listeners on a journey through heartbreak, loneliness, and love. It showcases all the different emotions that come throughout an individual’s life, while also expressing the price of allowing the heart to respond.
Co-produced by Hall, Side Effects Of The Heart tells the personal story of who Hall is. It reflects moments that we’ve all experienced leading us towards a connection with him and his music.
“I hope that I’m honest enough in them that people can hear themselves in these songs,” Hall shared in a statement about the project. “I remember when certain albums came out that I could put on while cooking dinner at the end of a long day and they set a mood, and that’s what we aimed to do with this 10-track album.”
Country Now recently caught up with Alex Hall to chat about the release of his debut album, bringing the songs to life through a short film, and more. Check out our exclusive Q&A below.
What was going through your head prior to the release not only a new album, but your very first album?
Gosh, I mean everything. Everything that could possibly be going through it is going through it. Are people going to like it? Is it going to be successful? What does being successful even mean as far as an album goes these days. I’m definitely having a lot of emotions and feelings, but overall I’m excited that it is coming out into the world. I’ve been working on this record for three to four years in total – from writing it to recording it. I’m just very excited that it’s coming out and I hope people really like it.
As a whole, what does this project mean to you?
With this record, I really just wanted there to be songs that were from a place that either I have lived and experienced them or from other people that I have experienced them through. Whether that’s hearing stories about what someone has been through or what not. I just hope that people can see themselves in these songs and connect with it in that capacity. My goal for it was to take people on a journey on whatever their side effects of the heart are. For me, that is heartbreak, love, loss, chasing down a dream, having our first child, getting married and all of the above. I think that in life, we all kind of think that we are going through it all on our own, especially when we are in the thick of it. It’s like we feel very isolated. The more I live life, experience things, talk to people, and hear stories, the more I realize that we are all going through the same mess together. It’s just different times, different places, and different people. I try my best to touch on that on this record and I hope people can connect with it.
On your Six Strings EP you collaborated with several star-studded artists and on this album you only collaborated with Brandy Clark. Why did you decide to only have one collaboration and why did you choose Brandy?
To be honest, I didn’t want any collaborations on this record at all. Originally Brandy wasn’t even supposed to be on it either. Since every song on my Six Strings album was a feature or collaboration I wanted to put out a record that showcased the fact that I didn’t necessarily need to lean on somebody else in order to make the music that I wanted to make. I wanted to kind of stand up on my own and do it by myself. Especially in a time where I feel like collaborations have become a little oversaturated at times. Not in a bad way, but I think that it’s just something that everyone is doing. It’s easier than ever to collaborate with people, which is awesome. I wanted to do this record on my own and stand on my own two feet. The reason we brought Brandy in as a feature on “Women and Horses” is because I was singing it originally, and there was just a little bit of something missing. The tenderness just wasn’t there and the track didn’t feel quite right. I had asked Brandy to sing on it because we had written this song together and also I just think that Brandy is so great at telling a story with just her voice. Obviously, her lyrics do that on her own, but she just has this gift of delivering a story and making you believe it. Her singing the harmony in the background on that song just took it to a whole other world. I think her tenderness to it just makes the song even more vulnerable and honest than it already is. That song in particular, I did write with my mom, sister, and wife in mind. I’ve been very fortunate to have some very strong and impactful women in my life and I feel like Brandy helped me deliver that message in a way that I couldn’t do by myself. Originally, like I said, there weren’t supposed to be any features and I was very intentional with that, but we made an exception for the incredible Brandy Clark.
The song “Women And Horses” is a reflection of the relationship you have with the women in your life. What were the reactions from your mom, sister and wife when you first played them this song?
Oh my gosh. They loved it. I get my love for animals in general, but horses specifically from my mom. My moms, sister, and I all grew up rodeoing and barrel racing together. We all grew up around that and I come from a long line of cowboys, farmers, and ranchers. I’ve always found a really close comparison between horses and these incredible women that have shaped me. I don’t think my world would spin without them in it. I think it was only right to write a song in dedication to them as kind of a thank you letter. They all love it and I know it is my mom’s favorite song on the record. My wife’s favorite song is ever-changing, but she loves this one too. It’s been fun to play this one live the last couple of years and I’m glad that it’s going to be finally coming out.
Can you share the story behind the song “Dad Now?”
It’s all true. It’s all autobiographical. I rewrote it a few different times before we finally finished it and recorded it. I just really wanted to make sure it was as honest and truthful about the emotion of that time period. When my wife and I found out that we were pregnant, we had just gotten married two months prior. We got married in November of 2020, got pregnant in December, and found out we were pregnant in January of 2021. We wanted kids at some point in our lives, but we weren’t expecting to have them that quickly. We were still in the middle of the pandemic, I was just starting to put out my Six Strings EP, and she had just started a new job doing a whole new career shift. Our world was just not in a place where we were ready to bring in a child. Of course, everybody always says you’re never really ready and we have found that to be true. We’ve somehow managed to survive and we are doing just fine as parents I hope. My goal with this song was just to write the emotions of what I was feeling. Really from the beginning, it was fear that I was feeling. We were terrified and we didn’t know what we were going to do or how we were going to afford it. We powered through it though and figured it out. I speak for both of us when I say that being parents is hands down the greatest ride and journey that life has to offer. I wouldn’t change it for the world and it’s definitely changed my life for the better in every way shape and form. That’s really what the song is about. The emotion of what it felt like finding out that we were going to have a child, then the journey from that point to where we are now. I continue to connect with this song more and more as it lives on, which is something I’ve never experienced before. It’s pretty special.
Can you talk about bringing each song to life through music videos?
I actually had an idea for this when we started recording the record. So far we have released one for every song except for “Dad Now” which will come out later. We are going to be releasing videos for every song and then at the end we are going to combine them all into one big visual piece. It will start from the very beginning and each song will flow all the way to the end with one big long video of the journey of the “Side Effects Of The Heart.” It will go song by song on the track list taking you on a 36-minute video journey of the whole thing. There will be one for every song, but then at the end, it will all be combined into one short film.
Which music video was your favorite to create and why?
To be honest, it was really fun doing them all. We shot all 10 videos in two days, which was a lot. We shot them all at this one old farmhouse. My idea was I could walk in and out of every song by being in different rooms and my listeners would walk into those songs with me. We shot them all in that way, so that was really fun. The two that I really love are “Dad Now” and “Denim And Diamonds.” “Dad Now” is just special because me, my wife, and my son are all in the video. “Denim and Diamonds” is also special because I get to have a little moment slow dancing with my wife. At first when you are thinking about these ideas, they sound cliché and cheesy, but then you see the final product of a memory that will be around forever. Having those little time capsules to hold onto forever is pretty neat. Those are probably my two favorites strictly for the memories and being able to have those in video form.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about the release of this album?
I’m really excited for the folks to hear it. I’m proud that I was able to write all the songs and co-produce the record. I’m also grateful that I’m signed at a record label that allows me the creative space to do that. I hope people connect with it and enjoy it.
Fans can keep up with Alex Hall on Instagram.
I am a senior at Kansas State University, where I am majoring in Communication Studies. Throughout my time at college, I’ve had the opportunity to publish a few of my pieces in the University’s newspaper, The Collegian, and I’ve created my own website. I’ve previously interned for Country Insider, an iHeartMedia-owned country music industry newsletter and I am currently interning for CountryNow, a Red Light Management owned publication. I’m very passionate about music and writing, so I hope to find myself in a career that incorporates both of these passions.