With his debut album — Welcome to the Block Party — Priscilla Block has created a real mountain paradise.
Seven of its 11 songs reference a bar – or bartender or bar stool – nodding to one of the genre’s most familiar settings. But the club is not just a writing tool. It’s a place Block knows well.
“I’ve always been a bar girl,” she says. “It’s not even necessarily, you know, going to the bar and getting drunk with your friends. There’s just something about a bar that inspires me as an artist and writer. I mean, half of my ideas, I’m just sitting at the bar listening to drunk people talking. It’s incredible.”
This is certainly the case with “My Bar”, the first song of the set, after an instrumental opening of 34 seconds. A few days before she wrote it with Lexie Hayden and Pierre Aielli on Feb. 15, 2019, Block had visited the Tin Roof in Nashville, where she encountered another woman sobbing on the bathroom floor.
“No shock,” Block says. “A girl crying in a bar in a bathroom.”
The girl’s tears started to flow after meeting her ex in the club. Block took over as a one-woman support group.
“I just took the paper towel off the wall,” Block recalled. “I was like, ‘Get up, pull yourself together. You look hot. Go ahead because this is your bar.’
In fact, Hayden had had his own experience with an ex at Tin Roof, located in his downtown neighborhood.
“I remember thinking, ‘It’s really weird because he never comes to this area,'” Hayden said. “I go to Tin Roof quite often, and I was a little surprised to see him there because I was like, ‘You know, that’s kind of my bar’ – and no hard feelings with him, but it was just weird.”
Hayden broached the subject during Block’s writing appointment, an appointment that saw a fair share of interruptions due to barking and customer visits, as Block earned money for babysitting. ‘animals.
“It was a dog’s day,” Aielli cracks.
Still, Hayden and Block found inspiration in each other’s stories, and all three enjoyed the “that’s my bar” hook, which challenged outdated feminine stereotypes.
“Historically, bars were like meeting places for guys,” Aielli suggests. “If a girl was there, it’s because she was A, with a guy; B, trying to meet a guy; or C, she worked there. It wasn’t really the same as today. »
Aielli took care of the guitar part as they tackled “My Bar” from its first line, locking the singer in a club where she (or he – the lyrics are asexual and could easily be converted into a man ) is regular enough for staff to know their “go-to drink”. At the end of this verse, the ex appears at the door and has his ID checked, setting up the refrain: “Don’t come in like you own it, you own it”, the repeated phrase creating part of the l ‘attraction. .
“When you say it again emphatically with the music driving it, it doesn’t sound like cheap stuff,” Aielli notes. “It’s more like, ‘This is real.’ ”
The next line followed – “You don’t, yeah you don’t.”
“It creates emphasis and maintains a rhyme pattern,” adds Aielli. “It’s also incredibly singing to do that [when] you do it the right way.
The singer’s delivery drips with disdain in the next line — “You think you’re such a star” — on the way to the “that’s my bar” hook.
“I have the lyrics written from that day, so I can see what I crossed out or what didn’t work out,” Hayden explains. “I’m actually still mad that line wasn’t in the chorus – it was like, ‘Go to Hollywood if you think you’re such a star. I have clearly crossed it out.
The song came together pretty easily, except for that pet sitting gig. This caused a temporary halt before they could complete the bridge and created more havoc as they recorded a version of the day’s work.
“Those mad dogs at home were barking,” Block recalled with a laugh. “Then the owner came to collect. We’re trying to make this tape work, I think everyone’s so frustrated, and I’m like, ‘Sorry, guys. I have to pay my bills. ”
They made a guitar/vocal work tape and Block worked out an arrangement with her band, using a guitar riff she had come up with. Performing it live on several occasions, she also develops the vocal approach, with conversational verses and a determined chorus. She finally made a demo too with the producer Robbie Artresswho teamed up with Justin Johnson and Block’s guitarist, Jake Curryto oversee the final version, recorded in the spring of 2021 at Blackbird Studios in Nashville.
The production occasionally announces a change of scene – particularly before the final chorus and as the song winds into its conclusion – but elsewhere it moves in and out of sections, framing Block like a bit of a 21st century Patty Loveless. .
“We did kind of a stripping, which sounds like a bar band, in the first verse,” Johnson explains. “Second verse, a common trope in dancefloor music is to go bass/drums/vocals down, and for this song, it felt pretty good with little guitar fills, playing its vocal melody here and there to catch your ear and keep you hooked on its melodic ideas. But lyrically, we’re just trying to find ways to pump up the choruses and prepare the listener for change.
Derek Wells pulls out a playful, offbeat guitar solo, using a slide to bend key notes sharply upwards instead of the more typical swampy, downward slide.
“The melodic outline of the solo suits the song so well,” says Johnson. “We also experimented with the tone at the back of the production so that it blended seamlessly with everything that was going on.”
Not that he needs to be too perfect. Block skipped a few P’s in his vocal performance and took deep breaths on the mic, and Johnson refused to clean up those elements much.
“My audio teacher would probably punch me in the head if he heard the skipped Ps,” Johnson admits, “but at the same time, I think ‘Cilla’s charm comes from this real intimacy she gives. She’s unapologetically herself in her music and day-to-day life, and we really strive to find what feels real and authentic to her.
Since signing with Mercury Nashville in September 2020, the label has watched “My Bar” as the sequel to “Just About Over You,” and radio programmers seemed to react when she toured the stations. The label released “My Bar” to radio via PlayMPE on January 13.
“This song is very ‘me’,” Block says. “I’m obsessed with this song, and I think when people see it, they know it’s real. It’s like, ‘Why not? Why wouldn’t that make sense? It’s a single, and when the radio went crazy about it, it was like, ‘Let’s see if we can just come up with this song.’ I think there’s a huge moment with that.