Right now, we’re both physically and emotionally unavailable. Country-pop superstar Kelsea Ballerini has left us in shambles with her tell-all EP, Rolling Up The Welcome Mat, and its accompanying short film. Following a tumultuous, public divorce, the singer shares her healing process with us in such a beautiful way!
I wasn’t worried about anything other than presenting the songs as honestly as possible. Most of them started with me and my guitar. I was writing by myself for most of the project, and it was nice to trust myself again. The only way I’ve been able to handle my life since I was 12 was to write about it. Ironically, I started writing music because my parents got divorced; that was my therapy. Rolling Up The Welcome Mat was how I processed everything. It’s the way I got my feelings out of my body and heart and put them to music, which is the purest way I could’ve handled it.
After fully taking in this project, we now realize just how much hurt she was forced to hide. Here, Kelsea creates a safe space for herself and her fans to unpack these heavy emotions and experiences together. She layers Rolling Up The Welcome Mat with personal details and thought-out symbolism. It’s the kind of album and short film that you keep finding new aspects to unpack every time you re-watch or re-listen. She’s truly outdone herself in her intimate, vulnerable magnum opus.
We could go on and on forever about why we loved Rolling Up The Welcome Mat – but a few lyrical and visual moments just stood out to us. We’ve picked one from each of the EP’s six tracks. Before you delve into this list, we’d suggest you have a big box of tissues handy.
“Scream, I’m just like my parents and giving up easy / But you never took that last flight to see me.”
‘Mountain With A View’ directly responds to one of her ex’s songs. We almost picked Kelsea’s hook, which flips her ex’s: ‘I think this is when it’s over for me.’ In the soft yet forthcoming opener of Rolling Up The Welcome Mat, Kelsea comes to terms with her decision to leave her ex-husband.
We ended up going with this line because it unapologetically points out her ex’s back-and-forth. Kelsea has spoken about her parent’s divorce, which happened when she was very young. Although she’s written about it in her song ‘Secondhand Smoke,’ and has overall allowed music and therapy to heal her from this experience, it’s still a touchy subject. Additionally, her ex once mentioned taking a flight to support her in a song.
“I’m too mad to fight, so I stare and cry / At the picture of you and me wearing white. Just married, just married.”
In ‘Just Married,’ Kelsea demonstrates how love can fade from a marriage with time. In some of the most impressive wordplay we’ve ever seen, she illustrates the transition from riding in a car that says “just married”… to lacking feelings and just being married. Divorces are scary and unfortunate but sometimes necessary for one’s healing. Filing for one freed Kelsea from the burden and burnout of her marriage.
“I just bought the house that we saw / You said it was wrong, I wanted it all along.”
I lived in a penthouse. The concept of a penthouse seems so glamorous, but it stopped feeling that way. I lost track of what was good in how I got there, and suddenly, I realized what you think isn’t always what there actually is.
As love left Kelsea’s relationship, a home reverted to a house – in the short film, the symbolic spaciousness, and emptiness of the setting accentuates that message. In this song, the EP’s titular “welcome mat” appears. When Kelsea rolls it up to take it elsewhere, that represents the end of a chapter. The song ‘Penthouse,’ especially this one line, puts her move in late 2022 into context. She finally rolled out the welcome mat on a new doorstep that actually feels like home. We’re so happy that Kelsea found this new beginning!
“I wanna set it straight, but my lawyer says I shouldn’t / And ain’t it like this town to only criticize a woman“
Although it’s common to skip interludes while listening to an album, please don’t do that for this one! Despite its short duration, Kelsea’s interlude brings the turning point of her marriage to life. It’s a crucial component of the EP’s overall story.
Especially after her ex dropped songs that seemingly discuss their relationship, several country music fans blamed and harassed Kelsea for the demise of their romance. Internalized misogyny certainly played a part in this take on the marriage – might we add, one that the public didn’t know too many details of until Kelsea’s EP release. It’s sad to see the extent to which Kelsea was silenced. Many fans were surprised by just how much she had to suffer.
“Like that one time in 2019, before that big show, we had a big fight / I slept on the couch and then the next night you put on your suit / I put on a smile and sang about how it’s okay to cry, dying inside.”
After hearing this line, we can never look at Kelsea’s red carpet photos or performance videos from the 2019 CMA Awards in the same way. She reveals a pivotal moment towards the end of their marriage, subsequently asking her ex, “Were you blindsided, or were you just blind?” We bet she felt every word of ‘homecoming queen?’ that night.
“I hope I never leave me again.”
This one is pretty self-explanatory. ‘Leave Me Again’ is like an acoustic, more descriptive, and more mature version of her earlier hit, ‘Miss Me More.’ Only now, the real-life experiences that Kelsea is singing about are fresh. She resolves never to lose her true self to romantic love ever again. The shaking in her voice broke our hearts.
In conclusion, we’re so proud of Kelsea for sharing her side of the story with us. She deserves the entire world, in relationships and beyond! Did Rolling Out The Welcome Mat shatter your heart as much as ours? Did we miss your favorite lyric from this heavy, emotional masterpiece? If so, leave a comment below or tweet us @TheHoneyPop!