Danielle Bradbery knows how you remember her. And she doesn’t blame you. There she was, in 2013, a spry, bubbly and utterly vivacious 16-year-old Texan, plucked from her normal life and placed on The Voice stage as if divinely destined to win over America’s heart. “People still have this idea of me as this little blonde country girl,” Bradbery says with a chuckle as she reflects on her younger self. “Pigtails and all.” A member of Blake Shelton’s team, Bradbery cruised through the TV-singing competition on the strength of her stunning, mature-beyond-her-years performances of traditional country songs. Later that year, she released a Top 5 self-titled debut album with songs of a similar variety. And while Bradbery contends she still loves country music and always will — “With all my heart,” she declares — the 21-year-old that sits here today is a decidedly new woman. A more refined one. A singer finally ready to share all of herself with listeners. “I didn’t know myself as a person back then,” Bradbery says of her teenage years. “I didn’t know my sound yet. Now I want to talk about real things. I want to be honest.”
A desire to peel back her emotional layers and, in the process, reveal her true self to the world — every bit the excited, inquisitive and passionate young woman who loves country, pop and R&B in equal measure — is precisely why Bradbery took nearly three years to rediscover her musical passion, investigate her sonic influences, and best understand where she stands as both a woman and evolving recording artist. It’s why she titled new album I Don’t Believe We’ve Met (BMLG Records). And, ever more important to Bradbery, it’s why for the first time as an artist she dove headfirst into the songwriting process with a no-nonsense directive to be honest and revealing in her music like never before.
Bradbery says in witnessing the boundaries of country music being constantly redefined she gave herself permission to take artistic chances with her new album. This sense of freedom is heard most notably on groove-indebted, pop-centric songs including “Hello Summer” and “What Are We Doing” both of which incorporate her passions for R&B and hip-hop. “I feel like the line of what is country music gets pushed every day,” Bradbery says. She references peers like former tourmate Thomas Rhett and Sam Hunt who she says are both pushing the genre in exciting new directions.