With a devoted fan base anxiously awaiting her forthcoming album This Old Thing, former American Idol runner up Kree Harrison chatted with us about her first single, her album and returning to the show that made her a household name.
With her debut single out now, fans are hearing a sound that perfectly sums up Kree: a bit country and a bit soul. Having grown up on a steady diet of old-school country and Otis Redding, Harrison describes “This Old Thing” as a “happy medium between both.”
Of the single, which she co-wrote with Benji Davis and Amanda and Tyler Wilkinson, she says, “I felt like ‘This Old Thing’ means a lot of different things to me personally. It’s this old sound I’ve been trying to make for a long time and I finally did. I just felt like it’s good to come out with something that’s uplifting and I feel like the message is kind of timeless. It’s fun to sing.”
In addition to releasing her single, Harrison recently shot her first video for the song, which will premiere soon on CMT. She’s also preparing to release her album, which she promises will be out later this year. “The whole record isn’t as funky,” she says, comparing it to the single. “There are some more intimate ballads and more country songs. Above all, it’s all very soulful.”
For the album, Harrison wrote 9 of the 13 tracks and admits that the process is similar whether she’s writing a song or selecting one by other writers.
I spent a year writing for it and then a few months listening to songs because I love writing, but I’ve definitely fallen in love with songs that I didn’t write that were perfect for this record. Maren Morris and Lucie Silvas wrote this song, ‘How to Dance,’ which is on the record and it’s one of my favorites. Then I’ve had a song that’s literally been pitched to me for about ten of the 16 years I’ve been in town, and I always loved it. It’s an old Harlan Howard song that only a couple of people have put it out, including Patsy Cline, so I cut it and it was literally the last one that we tracked and it was so fun and kind of nostalgic. I remember walking into a pitch meeting when I was like 11 and loving it. I couldn’t sing it then because it’s called ‘He Called Me Baby’.
Kree recently returned to American Idol for the show’s series finale and admits that it was a lot like a high school reunion.
It was insane and fun and there were tears and laughs and whiskey. It was fun catching up with people I haven’t seen in a minute and also getting to meet people I had never met, like Jordin Sparks. I finally got to hang out with her for a longer period of time and she’s just like the epitome of happiness. She walks into a room and it’s just like a little bit of sunshine.
As for what she learned from the show that has launched many country careers, Harrison says, “I feel like everyone would have a different outlook, but I learned a lot that I didn’t even being here in Nashville for as long as I have. I mean, more than anything, the fact that you get to know artists on a completely different personal level. It definitely taught me a work ethic like never before.”
When it comes to who she’d love to collaborate with, Kree names the bluesy Tedeschi Trucks Band as a top choice. She also leans towards Chris Stapleton in addition to her bevy of talented friends. “I feel like I’m a little biased because I have so many good friends who are in this town, and Maren and I live together, so it’s like I’m a little biased in that way. I’d love to collaborate with her or Brothers Osborne or Kacey [Musgraves] because they’re amazing and I think the world of them.”
She’s also currently digging Leon Bridges (“I feel like I’ve been on a kick of that for a minute.”) and Melanie Martinez. “I really like that ‘Cry Baby’ record. I think it’s one of the best pop records I’ve ever heard.”
As for bucket list concert venues, Harrison lists the magical Red Rocks in Colorado as a top choice.
She’s also incredibly thankful and humbled by her legion of loyal fans.
I’m just thankful that they’ve stuck it out for this long. I know that I’ve been really anxious to get something out, but it’s taken me this long so I could be sure I got it right. I didn’t want to half-ass the record so I hope that they’re proud of what I did and all of this time and effort that I’ve put in. I’m giving it right back because I know they’ve kind of stuck it out with me.
Listen to Kree Harrison’s “This Old Thing” here: