Alannah McCready Pours Her Heart Into 'Back To Me'

by Preshias Harris / 494 days ago / Comments
#

New EP is her most ‘transparent’ project

Hockey and music. Not a combination that immediately springs to mind – unless you are Alannah McCready for whom hockey and music are her twin passions.

“I'm from Minnesota, so we're in the state of hockey,” Alannah told me recently, “And you basically get hockey skates when you get shoes!”

With two albums in her rearview mirror and a brand new EP of original songs just released, Alannah talked to me about her highly-relatable, relationship-focused new tracks and how the discipline of sports affects her life as an indie artist.

Even as a small child, music came naturally to Alannah: her mother recalls finding the four-year-old in the bathroom entertaining guests at weddings. With a natural affinity for skating, at the age of ten she discovered another special talent on the ice rink – as a hockey goalie.

“I grew up playing hockey my whole life and singing at the same time because, even from a young age, I also knew that I wanted to be a singer and do that as my career,” she recalled.  “As I was growing up, I did both as often as I could.  In high school, I would sing the national anthem in my hockey equipment and then skate over and play the game.  I was the only person in my entire school that played hockey and was also in choir.”

Her hockey coach and the choir director were faced with a unique problem as they put their heads together to work out Alannah’s schedules for both concerts and hockey games.

“There would be times where they would overlap,” explained Alannah.  “and sometimes I used to have to go in the morning of a concert and sing all my soprano parts for our choir director because we had a game that night that I couldn't miss but I also had to get credit for the concert.”

In addition to choir, Alannah performed in music theater. “Everyone thought it was so weird,” she noted, “But these are my two passions so why wouldn't I do them both for as long as possible?”

Moving on to the University of Wisconsin-Madison after high school, Alannah was part of two NCAA Women’s Hockey National Championships.  She says she understood the NCAA expected her to focus on hockey as she was attending the University of a full athletic scholarship.  “It's like having a full-time job, playing a Division One sport,” she said.

But her other passion – music – never faded. “When I graduated college, I knew that I wanted kind of transition into music,” she said, “Starting in 2013 I did it full time and I've been doing it ever since.”

Heading to Nashville, she focused on her music career and recorded two critically acclaimed albums, Love Hangover followed by Ricochet Heart. Now comes her strongest outing to date, the five-track EP titled Back To Me. The new project shows her development and maturity as both a songwriter and a performer.

It was the pandemic and the sudden halt to performing live that gave Alannah the unexpected opportunity to take stock of her life and look at creating new music.

“Before Covid, I was touring a lot,” she noted. “I was playing so many shows like I was always gone playing shows and then when Covid hit and all that stopped. So, at that point I was like, ‘okay, well this is where I can transfer my energy that usually I am getting out on the road into making a new project.’”

Alannah said that a lot happened in her life during that hiatus that led to much of the content of Back To Me.   

“My friends go through things, I go through things and I draw a lot of inspiration from both of those things,” she said candidly.  “I just figure if me and my friends are going through something, we're definitely not the only ones. So I try to keep it really on the money of true experiences.”  

For Back To Me, Alannah called on brothers Sterling ‘David’ Gittens, Jr. and Will Gittens. Alannah wrote all five tracks on the EP with Will, along with the addition of a co-write credit on “Can I Call” from Sterling who also produced the project.

“When I wanted to do a project, my friends Will and Sterling Gittens, they're like the Dynamic Duo when it comes to creating music, writing and production and everything,” said Alannah.  “I was like, ‘you guys wanna do a new project with me?’ and they're like, ‘absolutely’ so during Covid we did my entire EP in the studio in their house, just the three of us!”

There’s no doubt that they created something special from the opening track, the inspirational mid-tempo “Something Like That” to the heartfelt closer, “Can I Call It,” a duet with Will Gittens about a couple in a long-distance relationship. (See full track list and credits, below.)

“It was the first time that Will and I had ever written together but we're such good friends that it just becomes easy. He knows me so well so when we're writing, he's like, ‘okay but what would you actually say in that scenario? let's say that.’  And I feel like that helps a lot.

I just feel like this this project is probably the most transparent that I've been in in my songwriting and that's the path I'm trying to stay on from now on.”

Alannah said that her early influences were powerful female artists such as Martina McBryde, Faith Hill and Reba McEntire.

“But when I'm now creating music, I relate to artists like Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde who show how real they are as people within their songwriting,” she revealed.  “I feel like the more transparent you are, your fans can tell the difference.  I think that's the difference between an artist that's really like getting through to their fans and someone who is just making music.”

For Alannah, transparency means drawing back the curtain and allowing the listener in to feel what she’s feeling, both the heartache and the exhilaration. The will to succeed and the self-discipline that she learned playing hockey have stayed with her as her music career flourishes in what she calls a “roller coaster” music industry. 

Back To Me is proof that Alannah has got what it takes.

Track listing and writing credits for Back To Me:

“Something Like That” (Alannah McCready, Will Gittens)

“On My Own” (Alannah McCready, Will Gittens)

“Back To Me” (Alannah McCready, Will Gittens)

“Take It Slow” (Alannah McCready, Will Gittens)

“Can I Call It” ft. Will Gittens ((Alannah McCready, Will Gittens. Sterling “David” Gittens, Jr.)

More about Alannah McCready at her website, on Twitter, on Instagram and Facebook. Find her music on Spotify.

 

Follow Alannah McCready  

About Preshias Harris

Preshias Harris Journalist

Preshias Harris is a music journalist who has interviewed everyone from Alabama to ZZ Top for articles and stories published in numerous music magazines. She is the author of longest-running monthly country music column in America and authored The College of Songology™ 101: The Singer/Songwriter’s ‘Need To Know’ Reference Handbook. As a music career development consultant with special emphasis on emerging and aspiring artists and songwriters, she focuses on ‘chasing the dream’ while understanding the realities of the music industry. She maintains a writers’ room on Music Row – named The Sangtuary – for her clients and their co-writers. She is a member of ASCAP (as a publisher), BMI, The Country Music Association (CMA), The Recording Academy, The National Association of Talent Directors (NATD) and a life member of Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI).

You can find out more about Preshias at https://www.collegeofsongology.com and find her blog at www.nashvillemusicline.com