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Kelsea Ballerini has announced that her forthcoming fifth studio album, Subject to Change, will release Sept. 23. She recently released the first song from the upcoming project, with the bubbly lead track, “Heartfirst,” which Ballerini wrote with Alysa Vanderheym and Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild.

“In my younger years, the idea of change scared me,” Ballerini said on social media, describing her journey of growth through this project. “It had proven to be a faceless force that patterned my past with uncertainty. Only in the gift of growth have I learned that in the stark and constant juxtaposition of life, living happens — that when I unclench my fists, undig my heels, and unravel the architecture built by youth, a true metamorphosis can happen.

“I’ve been searching somewhere between the broadness of the universe, and the simplicity in the little things, reflecting through wiser perspectives, leaning with body weight into matters of the heart, and finding blissful acceptance in the inner cracks I once cursed, but now let the light in to grow taller within myself. This is a season of becoming, healing, loving, dancing, and feeling. And like everything, it is subject to change,” she added.

Subject to Change will follow Ballerini’s double-shot of eponymous 2020 projects, kelsea and ballerini. The project is also the latest in a prolific streak of writing for Ballerini, who released the intensely personal book of poetry, Feel Your Way Through, last year.

On July 10, Ballerini shared hints about the new album via an impromptu Q&A session on TikTok. Asked by one fan about whether the overall album would lean more country-pop or more traditional country, Ballerini noted that the project is definitely influenced by strong female country artists.

“I will say the sound of this hypothetical record, is definitely different than anything I have ever done. It is heavily influenced by — I would say ’90s music in general, but definitely ’90s female country,” she explained.

Over the past year, Ballerini has also expanded her awards accolades, earning Country Music Association honors for musical event of the year and video of the year (both for “Half of My Hometown” with Ballerini’s fellow east Tennessee native, Kenny Chesney). Ballerini also earned a CMT Music Award last year in the CMT performance of the year category for “The Other Girl” with Halsey.

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