You know how it feels when something terrible happens, and people you barely know start acting like they’re your best friend? Kalie Shorr does, and she tells them to cut the B.S. in a new acoustic performance of “Too Much to Say” premiering on Sounds Like Nashville today (September 18).
Setting the brutally honest tone for Shorr’s upcoming album, Open Book, the track finds her singing about a straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back moment in the wake of tragedy. Shorr’s sister had recently died of a drug overdose, plus she found out she was being cheated on, and people kept giving her the forced-sympathy treatment. So, along with co-writers Robyn Collins and Ian Christian, she decided to capture the fed-up intersection of sorrow, frustration and anger.
“The song was inspired by an interaction I had at a bar,” Shorr explains. “It was immediately following my sister’s overdose and the media coverage that followed. Nashville is a small town and I would hear people whisper as I walked by — it wasn’t ill-intentioned, but it was very uncomfortable. I had a loose acquaintance come up to me that night and say ‘Hey, I’m so sorry about your sister, how are you doing?’ I decided to be honest because I know you’re supposed to say ‘fine’ or ‘okay’ or ‘hanging in there,’ but I wasn’t any of those things. So I said ‘Fucking awful, how are you?’
“They were so taken aback by my response but I just stopped wanting to pretend,” Shorr continues. “It was so liberating for me to admit that to myself and others, and that interaction is such a microcosm of this entire album.”
Shorr says she quickly realized the song would serve as a jumping off point for the album — “It feels like a thesis statement to the album’s essay,” she explains — but in the new acoustic video she takes that thesis back its personal roots. With just an acoustic guitar and nothing to hide behind, Shorr turns in a stripped-down version of the heartland rocker, adding another layer of confessional courage to an already-bold piece of work.
“It’s okay to not be okay, and there is so much freedom in being honest — especially with yourself,” Shorr says.
Shorr’s debut album, Open Book, arrives September 27 and also features the previously announced tracks “Lullaby” and “Escape.” After first earning attention with 2016’s “Fight Like A Girl,” she’s gone on to be highlighted as an “artist to watch” by outlets from SiriusXM to Rolling Stone Country and more, and is a member of the acclaimed Song Suffragettes community of female singer-songwriters in Nashville. She’s performing select concert dates and will make an appearance on the Grand Ole Opry September 28.