Lauren Alaina Demonstrates Growth at First Headlining Nashville Show
After a decade of touring with artists including Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and Blake Shelton, the 25-year-old singer-songwriter has graduated from an opening act to headliner status. Within the past 10 years, Alaina was named runner-up on season 10 of American Idol, came in fourth on Dancing With the Stars, endured two public breakups and lost a beloved member of her family. She's honest about all of this on her headlining debut tour, which launched in Nashville with back-to-back shows at Exit/In on Jan. 15 and 16.
It was only appropriate that Alaina opened the show with a video of her three-year-old self singing in her hometown of Rossville, Ga. — it was that girl with a dream who inspired her musical journey, after all, a point Alaina reiterated more than once throughout the night.
While the young star still has spunk, she carries herself with poise on stage, balancing her bubbly personality with a tone of sophistication when talking about her journey. And the growth she's gained through this journey is apparent in her new material, whether it's the way she vulnerably, yet powerfully shares the final moments of her stepfather Sam Ramker's life through "The Other Side" or analyzes her habit of holding on to facets of life long after their expiration date, and having enough self-awareness to realize when it's time to let go of these burdens in "Somebody Else's Problem."
The latter track, which the singer said is inspired by an ex-boyfriend, is a reggae-esque tune that has Alaina unabashedly stating that she's done holding on to something that doesn't bring positivity into her life, marking one of her most confident moments of the night.
In between numbers including "Ladies in the 90s," the oft fan-requested song she admits she never had a long enough set to include, "Like My Mother Does," and tagging opener Filmore for a duet of her collaboration with Hardy and Devin Dawson on "One Beer," Alaina brought the show to a humble place by honoring Ramker, who passed away from cancer in 2018. His final words to her and her family as he succumbed to the disease on their living room couch inspired Alaina to write a hopeful song about reuniting with our loved ones in the after life and creating a compelling story on Earth to tell them about, which also made for a shining moment in her 90-minute set.
But "Getting Good" is perhaps the best reflection of her growth. The lyrics see her as a young woman who has learned valuable life lessons that oftentimes people twice her age are still trying to figure out. Sandwiched in between early bops like "Georgia Peaches" and "Next Boyfriend," these thought-provoking songs demonstrate how her life experiences — from performing for an audience of millions each week to losing the "most positive person" in her stepfather — have impacted her as both an artist and songwriter.
As she ended the night with an edgy take on her chart-topping duet with Kane Brown, "What Ifs," the moving "Three" that stands as one of her best, and an intro to "Road Less Traveled" that featured Alaina and her band members ceremoniously pounding a set of kettle drums, the rising star proved that her headlining status is well deserved. When Alaina sings "I'm thinking, once I learn to grow right where I'm planted / Maybe that's when life starts getting good" in her new single, it's not merely a line in the song, but an indication that the seeds she's planting as a headlining act are destined to only grow.
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