MacKenzie Porter's sprawling, 19-track album, Nobody's Born With a Broken Heart, was always intended to be autobiographical.

Written over the course of several years, though, its essential, personal truth was always a moving target — until she wrote the title track, towards the end of the album-making process.

"I did a writer's retreat out in the Gatlinburg, [Tenn.]-ish area with a couple of my friends ... and we were talking about what else my record needed," Porter explains to Taste of Country.

She told her fellow songwriters (Parker Welling, Luke Niccoli and Lydia Vaughan) that she was still in the market for a song that told her story, top to bottom. Over a couple glasses of wine, they started talking, and "Nobody's Born With a Broken Heart" began to blossom, complete with lyrics so specific that they mention real memories, cities and even Porter's birthday.

"January 29th / 10 fingers and 10 toes / First breath / First tear I cried / Didn't know what I didn't know ..." Porter sings in the first lyrics of the the song, which wound up being the last on her album's tracklist.

Specificity was important to Porter throughout the album. You can hear it the songs that speak to her life today, like "Coming Home to You," a ballad about the perfect imperfections of life at home, with family.

You can also hear it in "Nightingale," which finds her looking back at her younger self, and all the wonder, joy and excitement that led her to a career in music to begin with.

"That song to me is when I tried to get into this industry and come to Nashville," she explains. "I was just so blissfully naive that I would be really confident, and go into sessions like, 'I have something to offer,' you know? It was just this really innocent confidence."

Many years — and her fair share of rejections — later, Porter has the jaded skepticism of anyone who's had to get used to the highs and lows of the business. But she still remembers the wide-eyed confidence that she brought to town with her, and in this song, she hopes to reclaim it.

"All she cared about was writing a great song. She didn't think about, 'Is it a single? Is it gonna get on playlists? Is it gonna get on the radio?' I miss that person," Porter reflects. "That song is about me trying to be her again."

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Not every song holds such a clear parallel to her own personal life, though. Porter has been with her husband, singer-songwriter Jake Etheridge, for example, but that doesn't stop her from recording "Pay Me Back in Change" — a devastating kiss-off to a partner's empty apologies — or "Foreclosure," about a marriage that's crumbling alongside the couple's home.

She admits she had some doubts about whether or not to include the latter track on the album. "I didn't want to have anybody think that, you know, my relationship wasn't good," she reasons.

But no country artist ever has to apologize for cutting a great story song, no matter their personal circumstances, and besides that, Porter points out that anyone who's honest about their relationship will say that things aren't perfect all the time.

"There are times even in a really happy, healthy relationship where it feels dark," she argues, adding that that's true in her own marriage just like any other. "There have been lots of highs, but there have been times when we've had to work harder. And that was a part of the story, too."

The truth got even more complicated and kaleidoscopic when, several months after she finished writing for the album, Porter found out she was pregnant with a baby girl. Baby Bowen (Bowie) was born in March. All of the sudden, tracks like "Nobody's Born With a Broken Heart" and "Nightingale" felt circular: She wasn't just looking back on her own origin story; she was looking ahead to a new one.

"It's opened different doors. It's now a different story than I thought it was gonna be," she says.

That being said, she'll cop to having a moment of panic when she realized she was going to put out an album and give birth to a child within a few weeks of each other. "I was pretty scared," she says. "I was like, 'Oh my God, I don't know how this is gonna play out, this timing thing is really bad.'"

But ultimately, Porter says, her pregnancy and her creative process have intertwined in ways that are more rewarding than even she could have anticipated. "It's so much sweeter," she says.

"It's such a sweet time in life, where we're so excited and I'm so excited for the record," Porter continues. "It's these two really sweet things happening at one time."

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