"It's about a compilation of exes, to be honest," Leigh Nash laughs to Rolling Stone Country about her new single, "Somebody's Yesterday," from her upcoming solo album The State I'm In. As the lead singer of Sixpence None the Richer, Nash is no stranger to love songs. "Somebody's Yesterday" is a lot less saccharine than her band's 1998 hit "Kiss Me," though, and way more south of the border: It's an ode to lost romance and the everlasting relationship with home, set to waltzing mariachi horns. (Listen to the song's exclusive stream below.)
"It was one of the best songwriting sessions I've ever had," Nash says of the track, which was co-written with Gerry House, the award-winning radio host and Nashville powerhouse who's crafted cuts for everyone from Reba McEntire to Brad Paisley. "I had said something to the effect of, 'When you are driving in Texas, the sky just goes on and on and it seems bigger when you go back.' [House] played this gorgeous opening line on the piano and there we had it. Going home never quite feels the same when you get older."
Indeed, the Brendan Benson-produced song starts with a line that evokes the feeling of losing a foothold on a place, a lover or a way of life one used to know well. "Texas is bigger than I remember," Nash sings, her voice as sweet as ever, but more adept now at using its dynamics to carry an undercurrent of subtle melancholy. Or maybe that's just from life experience. Nash grew up with country music, but she only recently felt she had weathered enough storms to properly approach the genre, particularly with her current balance of both joy and a heavy past: a happy marriage but a rough divorce, a beloved son but the loss of her father.
"I remember telling people in interviews when I was 15 that I really wanted to make a country record," says Nash, who was raised in Texas with the music of Willie Nelson, Conway Twitty and Flaco Jimenez. "I almost had to be bubbling over, and it kind of wrote itself. It was easy in the best way because I could bring all of these experiences into the songs, but obviously it's very, very personal. Writing it felt heavy, and now that it's done and recorded, I think it's going to be like letting a balloon go."
Benson produced the record in Nashville with a set of players that includes Rayland Baxter (Nash's duet partner on "Dreaming Out Loud"), Steelism's Jeremy Fetzer (guest guitarist on "Doing It Wrong") and Lillie Mae Rische (fiddle playing throughout), the latter known for her work with Jack White. Nash co-wrote with a variety of partners, including her husband Stephen Wilson, all of whom encouraged her to conjure up every corner of her Texan, country roots — a side that, according to Nash, was never missing. It was just a little latent.
"I didn't have to tap into anything," she says. "Because it never really left."