Kelleigh Bannen Learns to Love Every Phase of Life on New Album, ‘Favorite Colors’
The title track of Kelleigh Bannen's new album, "Your Favorite Colors," may tell a sad story, but the singer says it's representative of something broader.
"The song is about a long goodbye, essentially, and realizing that you knew everything about somebody, and the only thing you didn't know about them is why your relationship didn't work and where it'll end," she explains. "So that's heavy, but it's one of my favorite songs on the record."
Bannen wrote "You Favorite Colors" with good friend and close collaborator Will Bowen, who also produced the track. It's one of a small handful of songs on Favorite Colors produced by someone other than the Cadillac Three's Jaren Johnston, who helmed the bulk of the project.
"[Bowen and I] started talking about, 'Well, what if the album is actually all these shades that are emotions and experiences?'" Bannen recounts. "So that's how we decided to name the album Favorite Colors. And it's not even specifically [the colors you love the most, per se]. Some of them are painful colors, but they're all really important colors. So you kind of learn to love and appreciate them."
Like a lot of people, Bannen is inherently wary of change, so the metaphor rings true for her, in that there are a lot of things she's had to learn to love. "I have a love-hate relationship with all growing and learning experiences, but I don't think there is a better tool for growth and empathy than pain," she continues. Some life experiences are gentle teachers, while others -- such as, in Bannen's case, the loss of her brother to an accidental drug overdose in 2008 -- leave lifelong trauma in their wake.
"But the things I like most about me now came from the most terrible moments in my life," she points out. "Like, losing a sibling. You would never choose that. And I'm a way better person because I went through that.
"I hate that part of my story in some ways, but I also love it, because I think being able to mourn with somebody, or sit with them in sadness, is really, really important. It's one of the best gifts you can give somebody," Bannen adds. "So it's kind of like loving your scars."
The characters and situations she sings about on Favorite Colors are nuanced, with plenty of scars of their own, but Bannen finds ways to bring out a spark in each track -- and in a way, that's the point of the project. "Deluxe" and "Diamonds," for example, find the extraordinary in ordinary situations: Bannen squeezes some extra sparkle into a date night on a budget, then recognizes a love story that's as priceless as a rare gemstone. "Faith in You," meanwhile, celebrates the power that comes from being surrounded by a supportive chosen circle; the song's music video brings an additional element with the storyline of trailblazing boxer and single mom Heather Hardy.
Throughout the album, Bannen's scrappy songwriting style often champions overlooked treasures, celebrating simple victories and learning to find love in turbulent situations. While not every story told on Favorite Colors is a happy one, the painful moments are perhaps even more meaningful: Bannen finds the shine in every "color."
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