It took 5 years and some months, but Lauren Alaina‘s sophomore album is finally here.
During her time away from the spotlight, she focused on her craft and developed quite an impressive voice. Songs like “Same Day Different Bottle” and “Doin’ Fine” prove she has something important and necessary to say, and she now knows how to use her talents to great effect.
The new record, aptly named Road Less Traveled, features heavy themes about alcoholism, pain and navigating the music business — but the record doesn’t skimp on the youthful glow suitable to her age.
10 Best Performances From Lauren Alaina:
1. “Candle in the Wind” // 2011 “American Idol“
During her run on the now-defunct singing competition, Alaina showed tremendous promise. This rendering of the Elton John classic stands as one of her most compelling and nuanced performances, leading to quite an impressive post-show career.
2. “Same Day Different Bottle” // 2013 “CMT Next Women of Country”
Alaina has always been a fine singer, but she finally has material to match her vocal talents. This autobiographical tune about her father’s struggle with alcoholism is the kind of work that builds legacies. She first debuted the song way back in 2013 — and we finally have an official recording on her new LP.
3. “Always on My Mind,” // 2011, PBS’s “Country Music: In Performance at the White House”
Traditional country music is Alaina’s sweet spot. Joined by one of country’s mainstays, the young singer pulled out all the stops for one of her sweetest vocals. Stunning, really.
4. “Doin’ Fine” // 98.7 The Bull, 2016
In promotion of her second album, Alaina has been visiting and performing at a lot of radio stations. The first track on her new record is one of the singer’s most impressive songs of her career. Drawing from her personal life, she wasn’t afraid to get brutally honest.
“Daddy got sober. Momma got his best friend. I’ve cut down crying to every other weekend,” she attests.
5. “Maybe It Was Memphis” // 2011 “American Idol”
Chosen by her idol and fellow show alum Carrie Underwood, this Tillis song fit Alaina like a glove. It was exuberant and youthful and had enough lyrical oomph for the budding singer.
6. “Walkaway Joe” // 2012 Concert
There’s a clear Trisha Yearwood influence you can detect in the way Alaina has learned to craft a lyric, and her approach to phrasing. Both singers have similar textures to their voice, often thick like caramel but with a whole lot of power. This contemporary classic was made for Alaina.
7. “Road Less Traveled” // 2016 CMA Fest
Alaina’s first-ever top 15 hit sounds best in an acoustic setting. The recording’s production is a bit heavy-handed, but in its purest form, it packs a punch.
8. “Three” // The Listening Room, 2017
One of her album’s deep cuts speaks to the struggle of balancing rising stardom (and wanting “three minutes on the radio”) with her personal life. Backed with only a guitar, she allows the music to do the talking. And boy, does it.
9. “The Locket” // 2013 The Bing Lounge
Her Wildflower debut album did show the singer’s potential on cuts such as this, a powerful story-song about a couple who is pulled into the fight of their life. She sings her heart out and the rawness in her voice is powerful.
10. “When You Say Nothing at All” // 2011 “American Idol” Summer Tour
Boy, oh boy. Can you name two other mainstream up-and-comers as good as these two? There’s a reason they were Season’s 10 top two, and this performance displays their knack for traditional-bent material. And they do it extremely well.