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In a new album, Colbie Caillat shares the lessons she's learned 'Along The Way'

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

Colbie Caillat burst onto the charts with a joyful, effervescent track, "Bubbly," back in 2007.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BUBBLY")

COLBIE CAILLAT: (Singing) Starts in my toes, makes me crinkle my nose. Wherever it goes, I always know that you make me smile. Please stay for a while now. Just take your time, wherever you go.

RASCOE: Remember that? Listen to that song, and it's hard to not just smile. What followed were Grammy, MTV and Billboard awards, writing songs for artists like Brian McKnight and collaborations with Jason Mraz and Taylor Swift. Caillat moved to Nashville a few years back, and you can hear that country influence on her seventh album, "Along The Way," which just dropped on Friday.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WIDE OPEN")

CAILLAT: (Singing) And I'm wide open. I'm miles from yesterday. The sky opened, and the clouds all rolled away.

RASCOE: Colbie Caillat joins us now. Welcome to the program.

CAILLAT: Thank you so much. Nice chatting with you.

RASCOE: Yeah. So you were a California girl, born and bred, and you could hear that carefree, sunny vibe, like, in your music. But tell us a bit about your decision to move to Nashville.

CAILLAT: So, yeah, I'm from Southern California, and I wanted to live somewhere different. And so I moved there seven years ago, and it really feels like home.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OLD AND NEW")

CAILLAT: (Singing) From California, where the sun shines through, now in Tennessee and missing you. Times, they'll be changing with the seasons, as they do. Life is always what you make it. It's OK to miss the past while wanting something new.

You know, this whole album is actually a breakup album, but I wanted to express it in a loving, understanding way. And I was sitting in my room in my house in Nashville, and I was looking on my wall and all my shelves, and I was looking at my three dogs and a picture of me and my ex. You know, we spent 10 years together. And I just started listing all these things that I loved so much - that was my foundation. And also, at the same time, I was now this woman, on my own, single for the first time since I was 23 and, you know, really looking forward to the future and what it had in store for me.

RASCOE: You know, I mean, it definitely is a heartbreak album. And, you know, listening to it, I could - you know, the music was music that I could feel it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WORTH IT")

CAILLAT: (Singing) There were more good days than bad, more smiles than tears. We were more happy than sad. When we were us, we were fearless. Somewhere along the way, lovers drifted apart. And even though I didn't stay, you have a place in my heart. I know it wasn't perfect, but loving you was worth it.

RASCOE: And it just seems like a common thread in this album is kind of learning about, like, how not to regret relationships at the end 'cause you also have "Meant For Me" and "Buying Time." Talk to me a little bit about the...

CAILLAT: "Worth It" really set the tone for the record of how I wanted to, you know, show love and respect to the relationship I had and explain how much I learned from it. And then the song "Meant For Me," I was realizing how people can be meant for you in your life, but maybe only temporarily. There's breakup songs that are mad at your ex and that, you know, help you through those times when someone maybe wronged you. And, you know, we've all needed those songs. But this album is definitely one for those that can find the appreciation and nostalgia in what they had.

RASCOE: What is it like to kind of write an album where you are being vulnerable? It's so deeply personal. Like, how does that feel to make and then to put out into the world?

CAILLAT: You know, songwriting is very therapeutic. And what makes songwriting so special is that you can write about something that you're going through in life. And when people hear it, it connects with them. And there is always that aspect that, you know, the person you wrote it about, what are they going to think? And I also think that that's OK. For some reason, I feel less vulnerable sharing it in a song.

RASCOE: And there's this really pretty duet with Sheryl Crow, "I'll Be Here For You" (ph).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'LL BE HERE")

SHERYL CROW: (Singing) If you need someone to believe in, if you're reaching for a hand to guide you home, just take my hand, and I won't let you go. 'Cause you should know I'm never going to let you down, always going to build you up. When you're feeling lost, I will always find you, love. Never going to walk away, always going to have your back.

RASCOE: How did that duet come about? Did you guys just kind of bump into each other around Nashville - I think Sheryl Crow lives there too - or did you know each other from before?

CAILLAT: Yeah. You know, she does live in Nashville. We're kind of neighbors. She lives, like, 10 minutes away from me. But I got to open up for her tour about 10 years ago, and she was incredible. I mean, I've always been a huge fan of her music. She's been an influence of mine. And a few years ago, when I started thinking about writing a new record, I asked her if she wanted to sing a duet with me, and she said yes. And then it took me, like, two years to actually - or three years to make the record. And only a few months ago, I reached out again and I was like, is that offer still there? Are you still interested in singing with me? And she said yes. And we recorded it really quickly. We went to her house and recorded her vocal just a couple months ago.

RASCOE: So you're in the country genre now. Do you plan on staying in that genre?

CAILLAT: I really just was focused on this record. And it wasn't even a record I planned on writing. It just - you know, when the pandemic hit and my relationship ended, I was - all of a sudden, it was, like, this new world I was living in, this new life. And as far as future music, I really think - I don't set out to do a certain record or genre. Anything is possible.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WIDE OPEN")

CAILLAT: (Singing) And I'm wide open. I'm miles from yesterday. The sky opened, and the clouds...

RASCOE: That's Colbie Caillat. Her album "Along The Way" is out now. Thank you so much for speaking with us today.

CAILLAT: Thank you so much, Ayesha.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WIDE OPEN")

CAILLAT: (Singing) Wide open. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.
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