Jana Kramer isn't burdened by needing to show anyone that she's squeaky-clean and perfectly composed. The singer-actress, whose most recent single "I've Done Love" slotted romantic entanglement alongside a host of illicit drugs, makes messy into a hook by mining the detached anguish of heartbreak with her latest single "Dammit" – her second release since parting ways with Warner Music Nashville and a return to the reflective material that made Top Five hits out of "Why Ya Wanna" and "I Got the Boy."
Written by Nicolle Galyon and Elizabeth Huett, "Dammit" is shot through with disappointment over the loss of an almost-perfect love, and Kramer says the track speaks directly to her own experience. After she welcomed the birth of her daughter with husband Mike Caussin in 2016, the pair endured a public separation, but have subsequently renewed their vows.
Kramer spoke with Rolling Stone Country about the new track, which she hopes will become part of a new album.
After two major-label albums, you're now working independently and "Dammit" is your second single. You've had a lot of success, but like any artist you've had some setbacks too. How does "Dammit" fit into your story?
I got "Dammit" a year and a half ago – it was when I was still on the label. I remember hearing it and just being like "Oh my gosh, this song is amazing," so I sent it to my peeps and the label was like, "Country radio will never play this," and I was like "Yeah, but I love it, and I want to do the song." They just were really resistant to the song, and the second I got off the label I was like, "I want to release it." For me, the things that have worked have been authentic and about being vulnerable, singing songs people can relate to.
Nicolle Galyon and Liz Huett wrote the track. What did they tap into that spoke to you?
That it wasn't about being bitter. It's not about guy bashing, it's not saying, "This is why our relationship ended." It’s just like "Dammit. We were so close to having everything we ever wanted, and it just didn't work out."
You've been careful about sharing a lot from your personal life, but you've also said this song rings very true to you. Is it hard to strike a balance between privacy and openness in your music?
It's the curse of being in the spotlight. I’ve been super open about things, and the song for me truly is about my current relationship. I remember when everything was falling apart; it was like "Ugh, we were so close to having that perfect, picket-fence fairytale. We had talked about our plans, and now they're not coming to fruition." It was hard, and when I heard that song I was in that space, too, like "Dammit, why did this have to happen?" But we've been able to turn our story around a little bit, and I'll be able to get some good songs out of that, too, one day.
Like your last single "I've Done Love," "Dammit" comes with a darker sound than some of your previous work. Why is that so appealing to you right now?
For me, I love a good, dark ballad. It makes me happy. I know that sounds weird because it's not a happy song, but for some reason it just makes me feel better, being able to get in that state of mind.
How has working as an independent artist compared to your time on a major?
It's good and bad in both situations. There's positives to being on a major label and there's negatives as well, and not being able to release music you want to release is definitely one of those. So the fact that now I get to say what I want to say, act how I want to act, that's a positive for sure.