It borrows the title of a celebratory song sung around the world on a daily basis, but Kelleigh Bannen’s “Happy Birthday,” as depicted in the Nashville native’s melancholic new video, isn’t aiming to get the party started. Penned by Bannen with Claire Douglas and Dallas Wilson, “Happy Birthday” is a delicate and wistful look at life after love and the times when a phone call has to substitute for more intimate contact. (Think Adele’s “Hello” with a touch of sweet, acoustic twang.)
Covering a three-year period in which the pensive brunette places birthday calls to her ex, the “Happy Birthday” clip finds Bannen lamenting, “I learned a little too late I can’t have my cake and love you, too,” as scenes play out with her ex in bed with a new love (in “Year One”) and reminiscing on the phone with Bannen (in “Year Two”). As “Year Three” begins, the ex is thrown a surprise party, but bolts from the celebration when Bannen’s annual phone call comes in. It turns out he has a surprise of his own for the singer just as she takes the concert stage.
“Happy Birthday” debuted last summer on SiriusXM’s “The Highway,” as part of a three-song “Highway Find” collection spotlighting Bannen’s gift for detail-oriented songwriting and tender, soulful vocals. Earlier this month, the singer also debuted Season Three of her podcast, This Nashville Life, examining the creation of three blockbuster country hits: “Live Like You Were Dying,” “The House That Built Me” and “Girl Crush.”