The actress-cum-country-music-singer hit Nashville at an inconvenient time, but that hasn’t stopped her from turning heads and releasing hits.
With her sophomore album thirty one just out of the gate, and the lead-off single “I Got the Boy” climbing the country charts, Jana Kramer is sitting pretty. The singer, who is pregnant with her first child (it’s a girl), says she’s happier than she’s been in a long time. New album. New marriage. New child — 2015 is proving to be a banner year for Kramer, who just a couple of years ago walked away from a plumb role on the CW TV drama, One Tree Hill to pursue a singing career.
In retrospect, the timing couldn’t have been worse; country music was flooded with a number of celebrities “going country.” The list was long, and if we’re honest, the quality wasn’t always there. It seemed the deck was stacked against Kramer from the outset. But the single “Why Ya Wanna” made a believer out of the skeptics, and became a Top 5 hit.
In 2012, Jana and “One Hell of an Amen” singer Brantley Gilbert got caught up in a whirlwind romance. Within a few months, the two were engaged — and then within a few more months, they weren’t. Kramer still gets asked about the very public break-up in interviews, but she seems to take it all in stride.
“This album was a couple of years in the making,” she told us. “And in that time I have had new love and lost love, and found love with my husband. I’ve definitely evolved with this album, personally and professionally.”
After their split, Kramer and Gilbert both have gone on to find the “right” one, but there are a number of songs on thirty one that deal with the emotional baggage that comes with a failed relationship. “Bullet,” a stylized, bombastic country rocker which features Steven Tyler, starts with the line, “Had the song picked out/Had the preacher on call/Had my mama in tears/She didn’t like him at all,” and goes on to give thanks for dodging a bullet. Likewise, the more thoughtful “Last Song” assures us, “This will be the last song/About all the shit that went wrong/You burned me, I burned you /All of it’s true” before Kramer’s begging the melody to set her free.
Of course, there are also partying songs “Pop That Bottle”, playful songs “Don’t Touch My Radio” and downright funny songs “Said No One Ever”, and each adds to the charm of thirty one. After spending time with the album, you can tell that despite the ups and downs, there’s no place Kramer would rather be, and she’s proud of where the road has taken her.
“The path has changed,” she says. “but I definitely feel I have strengthened as a writer, and who I am as an artist.”