Jessica Mitchell on her debut album, ‘Heart of Glass’: ‘It felt like the end of a chapter’

Jessica Mitchell in a publicity shot for her debut album, 'Heart of Glass.'. RGK

Jessica Mitchell has had a whirlwind ride.

Virtually unknown until about two years ago, when her song Workin’ on Whiskey was first played nationally on the radio, Mitchell has meteorically ascended in the Canadian country music scene.

She’s now releasing her debut album Heart of Glass, which features 11 tracks (four previously released, and seven new). Lauded as “Country’s Adele” and likened to Sheryl Crow by media outlets across Canada, Mitchell’s critical acclaim began immediately following the release of Whiskey, which was the was the most-added song at the time of its release. She’s toured with Canadian country legend Terri Clark, Bonnie Raitt, Kiefer Sutherland and Johnny Reid.

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Recorded in both Toronto and Nashville, Heart of Glass features notable producers, including Blake Bollinger, Ben Stennis and Karen Kosowski, and hit songwriters Deric Ruttan (Eric Church, Dierks Bentley) and Victoria Banks (Sara Evans, Johnny Reid).

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Heart of Glass delves into the best — and most challenging – thoughts about being a woman,” Mitchell said. “I poured myself into this album and I hope that when people listen to it, they find a connection to their own lives. I hope each song encourages listeners to find their own strength to move forward, whatever their adversities.”

Global News sat down with Mitchell to talk about her new music, how she’s dealing with newfound fame and what Heart of Glass means to her.

Global News: Your debut album! This is a big deal. How are you feeling now that’s it ready to go?
Jessica Mitchell: I feel very good, very relieved that the fans will finally be able to hear all the songs I’ve had in my head, some of them for three or four years. There are also songs I’ve been playing live forever that’ll finally have a home on this album. It’s overwhelming, but it’s a huge release. I’m very excited.

How does it feel to see country-music fans so dedicated to you and your songs?
It feels amazing, of course! [Laughs] In the country community, it’s a love of music and a love of storytelling. It’s also a love of having fun … My music isn’t always about having a good time, though. [Laughs]
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Do you feel pressure being called “country’s Adele”? That’s pretty heavy.
Not anymore. I’ve settled into myself. Since we last spoke two years ago, I’ve found out who I am. That, to me, is the most important thing: coming out the other side of all this craziness knowing who you are. It’s been nuts, a slow-growing thing.

What was the process of putting ‘Heart of Glass’ together?
I went down to Nashville to record all of my new songs, and three of the older ones were recorded here in Toronto. I co-produced the ones in Nashville, I was very involved in the making of those.

Management really gave us the reins when it came to this album. They let us choose the songs, write the songs and they trusted us. There wasn’t really heavy involvement or them saying “It needs to sound like this” or “change this.” They just knew that we were going to do what we do best, which is to make the songs sound as great as possible. That approach on their part definitely worked out for the better — there weren’t too many cooks in the kitchen.

You had previously told me that your earlier song Grown Up Things was perceived as “too depressing,” and you didn’t get a lot of radio play. Do your new songs on this album fall under a specific mood, or are they varied?
They’re varied. The tone of the record is love, loss and acceptance. Also, it’s about being a woman in love and out of love, finding yourself again. The content is one-in-the-same, but it goes over different emotions and scenarios as it progresses through the tracks.

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The first single from the album, Bulletproof, is being released on Friday [May 11], and then another track later in the year. But radio play is not the end goal for me. The end goal is touring, getting out there, getting my songs heard. I want these songs to connect with someone, whether it’s one person or a million, I don’t really care.
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Are there any songs on the album that you’re particularly proud of, or are they all your babies?
They’re all my babies, and some of them are older, but I feel like Rain for the River is the song I’m going to be talking about most. It’s the end of the record, the last song. It was one of the very last songs that we wrote. It’s such a good summary of everything I wanted to say to a specific person in the moment, but didn’t get the chance to. It felt like the end of a chapter, as this record does.

It’s a goodbye to those stories and a way to welcome in new ones.

‘Heart of Glass’ is available across Canada for purchase and streaming on May 11.

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