Brandy Clark's sophomore album, Big Day In a Small Town, is all about the people and moments that define living in a place where stoplights can sometimes be counted on one hand; and both shame and glory hide beneath what may seem to be a simple, all-Americana surface. One of its standout tracks, "Homecoming Queen," written with the power team of Luke Laird and Shane McAnally, is no exception. A vivid portrait of an aging beauty queen brought to life by Clark's cinematic hand, it shows how those football trophies and prom court crowns don't always lead to a gold-medal existence – crafted, in a lot of ways, for those who watched from the bleachers, not the stage.
"My goal is for other people to find themselves in my songs," Clark tells Rolling Stone Country about the tracks that comprise Big Day In Small Town, which was produced by Jay Joyce (Eric Church). "There's always a little bit of me – you can't help that. But I really want to write a story well enough that other people are like, 'that's me.' That's the common thread of songs that I love."
"Homecoming Queen" may be about one particular wilted flower, but its themes are universal: the way those exhilarating or crushing moments of youth can feel like forever, and how trading dreams for convention never quite works out as planned.
"Yeah, she loves her husband 'cause she said she would," Clark sings. "Oh, it ain’t so bad, but it ain’t so good."
The album might be titled Big Day In a Small Town, but these are stories that are relevant whether you hail from Morton, Washington or Washington, D.C. — because Clark understands that our worlds are often only as big as the people we touch on a daily basis, and the goals we've yet to achieve.
Big Day In a Small Town is out Friday, June 10th.