The rising Nashville star’s debut album ‘My Stupid Life’ is one of the most convincing country statements in a while
Like most singers new in town, Brittney Spencer spent the bulk of her first decade in Nashville paying dues. She busked to passersby, sang backup for Carrie Underwood, and carved out a space for provocative songwriting in the city’s Christian-worship-music community. Then, in 2020, in the wake of country music’s reckoning with its long history of racial exclusion, Spencer uploaded a viral acoustic cover of the Highwomen’s “Crowded Table.” Since then, she’s opened for Willie Nelson and Megan Thee Stallion, sang at the CMAs, and even became an affiliate member of the Highwomen, the group whose song started it all.
But until My Stupid Life, a debut country record that’s certain to cement Spencer’s place in the genre, all of that seeming stardom had gone untested. The album takes a few songs to find its footing, but once it does, My Stupid Life lifts off and soars: It’s hard to think of a stronger run on a country LP in recent memory than the five-song stretch beginning with the self-reclamation ballad “The Last Time” and ending with the tender heartbreak of “If You Say So.” “The microwave love and toaster vows,” she sings of the faltering new marriage in the latter, “can’t bare the weight of us right now.”
Spencer traverses a blend of muscular pop rock, textured soul, and anthemic singalong pop, all of it grounded squarely in a genre-agnostic country that conjures Maren Morris’ landmark album Hero. (Morris, one of Spencer’s foremost champions, looms large here, adding vocals on one song, getting name-dropped in another.) Spencer has assembled an ace team to showcase her versatile voice and incisive writing, including producer Daniel Tashian (Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour). The result is a record unencumbered by the need to constantly prove its Nashville bona fides, and in doing so ends up being one of the more convincing country statements in some time.
My Stupid Life is a deftly told collection of stories that, like her “Crowded Table” cover, simmer with subtext. Underneath the sugary gloss on these songs about flirting and flailing lurk layers of meaning: Beneath the ode to partying at home in sweatpants on “Night In” lies the threat of “drunk boys mumbling ‘Can I buy you a drink?’” The love story of “My First Rodeo” also works as a parable of a singer who’s spent years being ignored in a town that hands out opportunities like coupons. Then there’s the acoustic closer, “Reaching Out,” a song about striving for honesty when things aren’t going great. “This world is full of stories that look quite like my own,” Spencer sings in a whisper. It took too long, but thank God she’s finally been given the chance to tell them.