Newcomer Rachel Farley was recently named one of CMT's Next Women of Country, and rightfully so. Her brand new single "Midnight Road" samples definitive rock and pop influences, melding into the singer's charming and unique brand of modern country. Spinning a rather darker production to the typical relationship drama, Rachel is a tour de force of sass and powerhouse vocals, often earning her comparisons to pop-turned-country belter Kelly Clarkson. "To be compared to her is amazing. I never thought of living up to that. If that’s what people are hearing out of little ole me, I’ll take it!" she laughs in an exclusive interview with Nashville Gab, adding, "I’ve always loved Kelly Clarkson. Her ‘Thankful’ record is still one of my favorite pieces of work ever."
With her sights set on her debut Red Bow Records project, the budding talent has put together a bloated 16-track record, including nearly 10 songs from her previous record deal.
"It’s been two years in the making," she says of the yet-untitled forthcoming album. "I started it when I was 15, and I was signed to another label. We did a 10-song album that was never released. I came over to Red Bow Records, and we’ve added six songs to the album. It’s just such a full project now. It really covers a lot of ground and a lot of stories in my life."
If the lead single is any indication, Rachel plans on taking no prisoners on the new record. As far as "Midnight Road" is concerned, it came together pretty quickly with her co-writers Ross Copperman and Heather Morgan, despite never having met beforehand. "They’re super talented writers," she says. "It was our first writing session. We had never met or been in a room together. So, you never know how those are quite going to go down. It clicked right along, you know? We all started throwing out ideas. Ross had a kind of track he was working on on his Mac. He’s really good with that and played us kind of what became the beginnings of [the song]. We were like ‘ah, that has a really cool vibe to it.’ It led to Heather going ‘I don’t know what it means, but it kind of feels like this title I have of ‘Midnight Road.’ We were all like ‘oh, I don’t know what that means either but let’s make it mean something. I like it.’ And, so, it was born."
"I really love the concept of that awkwardness in the beginning of relationship when you’re not really sure what it is yet and you’re ready to kind of find out. I like the combination of the uncertainty and the wanting to get the date right, but at the same time, you’re kind of daring him to make the next move. There’s the spunkiness with the uncertainty intertwined. I love the hodge-podge of emotions."
With the lyrics portraying such a vivid storyline, Rachel notes that the song's music video will be performance-based rather than having a concrete visual. Filmed around the Nashville area, she explains, "We kind of just wanted it to be more focused on introducing me and what I do. The director [Wes Edwards] has some really cool ideas, playing with some projections. I think it’s going to be really different."
Edwards' impressive resume includes several clips with superstar Jason Aldean. "[He’s] just a really, really brilliant mind," Rachel praises.
With several years of working in the studio under her belt, the singer-songwriter never gets nervous or self conscious while laying down a track. "You know, I’ve been in the studio a lot through the years starting in Georgia with some friends in smaller home studios and then in the studio now with Michael. [He’s] so great at what he does. I know what I’m looking for. When we’re working together, it’s really easy to be like ‘this isn’t quite it yet’ or ‘I want more of this feel.’ The musicians[, too,] are so talented. It’s so easy to get the song to where it needs to be. You tell them two things, and they get it and run with it. It’s better than you could have ever imagined."
She adds, "So far, songs have come out the way I envision them in my head. I go in there, and I usually have a direction and definite image for what I want."
As the country music debate rages on, Rachel doesn't find the lack of female radio airplay a hurdle to her career. She asserts, "I try not to think about that. It doesn’t make a difference to me. Hopefully, radio sees through whatever block its behind."
As far as a reason why radio is so adverse to playing more leading ladies, she can't pinpoint the problem. "I don’t feel like there should be any reason a woman artist can’t get as much love from radio as a male artist. Maybe it’s the style of music the females are coming out with," she ponders.
As with most 18 year olds, Rachel is fond of sharing her life on Twitter, including some of her favorite food. Surprisingly, the performer has an affinity for chinese food, but doesn't like to put labels on what she loves. "It’s really hard to put the word ‘favorite’ on food. I love food…a lot. It’s kind of the love of my entire life," she quips. "Chinese food is amazing. I have a chinese food place that’s right down the street from my house. They are lovely, wonderful people who give me lovely, wonderful food. It’s always better when reheated the next day."
Her favorite dish? "I get General Tso’s chicken. It’s like nine bucks and feeds me for three days. I’m also being economically mindful."
Of course, her love of food runs the gamut. She laughs, "I pretty much go to Italian restaurants for the bread. I pretty much go to Mexican restaurants for the chips and salsa. Chuy’s has a crack sauce. It has a name, but I don’t know what it is. It’s so amazing and addicting. I pretty much go and say ‘please bring me crack sauce,’ and they know exactly what I’m talking about. Chuy’s is my jam."
"Shoot. I love pizza and cheesecake and peanut butter. Should I keep going or are we good?"
On having a bucket list, she reveals, "I made this list when I was about 13 years old. One of the things I got to check off was opening for Jason Aldean. [Another was] playing the Grand Ole Opry. I got a tattoo for my 18th birthday. Then, there are some things that aren’t checked off yet, like getting my picture taken with Shaquille O'Neal and riding a real train. And I would like to meet P!nk. She’s incredible."
Photo courtesy of Red Bow Records