Priscilla Block Grows Thick Skin on ‘Welcome to the Block Party’

Priscilla Block opens up about her life on her debut album!

Written by Cillea Houghton
Priscilla Block Grows Thick Skin on ‘Welcome to the Block Party’
Priscilla Block; Photo credit: Logen Christopher

Priscilla Block is an open book on her debut studio album, Welcome to the Block Party, letting her emotions take the lead. “I’m either laughing or crying all the time, and you can hear that in my music,” Block professes to Sounds Like Nashville over Zoom. “I’m a very open person and I always have been. It’s really hard for me to lie. You know if something’s wrong with me. It’s hard for me to hold back, so I think that if people can read that off the bat, then why would I try and hide the story? Why not just be open? That’s something that I want to teach people that it’s okay to be unapologetically yourself and be vulnerable.”

This rings true on Block Party, a collection of songs the North Carolina native has been writing long before her breakthrough single “Just About Over You” went viral on Tik Tok and earned her a record deal with UMG Nashville. One can hear her journey as an up and coming singer-songwriter who has a gift for turning her life experience into personal lyrics and pop-country goodness, from the carefree and confident “Thick Thighs” to the edgy “Wish You Were the Whiskey” that she initially pitched to Jason Aldean. “These were the songs that I felt like connected,” she describes of her “unapologetic” approach to selecting the songs for her coveted debut. “I choose to write the songs that are very honest for the time that I’m in, and these songs are very honest. They all came out of my diary. I think it’s exciting that I get to give the world a collection of songs that are very me and where I’ve been and why I am the way that I am.”

While the album’s title implies a good time (and there’s plenty of them), Block also weaves in songs that are bound to get listeners all in their feels. This self-exploration began when Block was 15 and started writing songs as catharsis through “life and heartbreak,” growing up in a house where her parents fought throughout the duration of her childhood, ultimately ending in divorce.

Block doesn’t shy away from her pain, whether she’s calling out a cowardly partner who takes the easy way out as opposed to staying through the thick and thin of a relationship on “Like a Boy,” to the struggles of gaining weight and the bullying that followed. “It’s easier for me to write the songs that I’ve gone through and I have lived versus making up some story in my head of something,” she explains of her songwriting inspiration. “That whole process was really special. The fact that I was able to be really vulnerable in writing rooms, I think that’s why the music has landed where it has.” 

One of the songs that required her to get deeply vulnerable in the writing room was “I Know a Girl.” During a Zoom writing session with Hillary Lindsey and David Garcia, Lindsey noticed that Block was wearing her father’s wedding ring on her necklace, opening up the space for Block to talk openly about the impact of her parents’ divorce and breaking up with the guy she thought was she destined to marry. Through her songwriting, the longtime Nashville resident is able to reveal truths about herself that she’s carried deep within, such as when she sings, “when all you want is what you had / And what you had, you can’t go back.” “It’s the idea of I rushed out of my life and I wished a lot of times to pass and now I look back and I’m like, ‘I wish I could get that back,’” she reflects.

Block also holds herself accountable to looking inward on “I’ve Gotten Good,” calling out her ability to mask her darkness by being “the life of the party” and putting on a show – literally. “It is so easy to put blame on other people, and sometimes you really need to own up to your own truth. That song’s like, ‘you’re a really good actor. You’re not good, go figure this out.’ I think for me it’s important to do that, and if I’m going to be open and honest, I need to be honest with myself too,” Block observes. “I almost needed to forgive myself for going through times or in many of [the songs], it’s calling myself out. ‘Priscilla, you’ve put on a show that you’re good for so long and you’re not.’ I think every song, writing it really helped me through that moment, whether it was getting it out on paper, letting go, or maybe not letting go and writing about that, and it’s like, ‘I’m okay to not be okay.’”

In an album full of personality, ear candy melodies and Block’s stellar voice that sparkles across a dozen tracks, the energetic 26-year-old balances the bleak moments with a healthy dose of humor. This shines through in moments such as “Thick Thighs” where she drops phrases like “muffin top” and proudly admits to choosing  “extra fries over exercise.” “It was a really fun song to write, and I didn’t even know looking back how much that song shaped me as an artist. It really made me take a step back and be like, ‘what if I’m a walking sh** show. I need to sing about that in my song. People like that,’” she declares.

“It’s a fun song to sing. I’m a curvy girl. I’m always going to be a curvy girl, so why not sing about it.” It’s this unabashed honesty that also shines through in the album’s closing number, “Peaked in High School.” The LOL-worthy attitude she infuses into the track shows off her ability to heal from the past by laughing through the hurt. The song calls out the friend who called her fat at the pool during freshman year and rolls its eyes at the bullies who are still calling the number she’s since changed. The video even shows a hurtful text message she received as a teenager from two former friends who thought they were giving helpful advice by telling her she could stand to lose a few pounds. “I remember being this little girl and I was crushed, truly, and I think it started developing a lot of insecurities in myself,” she recalls of the devastating moment. “I think that when you can bring humor to a situation that might be sad, it makes it a little bit easier.”

Turning pain into art is something Block has a special skill for, and with Block Party, she builds a foundation for continuing to share her stories in an authentic way that she hopes will inspire others to speak their truth. “We are human. We put on shows every night and it looks glamorous, but I’ve gone through really hard stuff, and I want people to know that this comparison game that we always play with ourselves via social media, I don’t want to play that game,” Block proclaims. “I think that there are hopefully a lot of people that can connect to my music and feel heard, feel understood, and also dream big. I hope that people take away that it’s totally cool to be you and be authentic, be your true self and it will resonate with people.”

Welcome to the Block Party is available now.