Lainey Wilson‘s next album is going to include some love songs. The 31-year-old has been happily dating former professional football player Devlin “Duck” Hodges for more than two years, which she says means her next record will include a few tracks about their relationship. For Wilson, writing is in her blood, more so than any other aspect of her career, and is why she says she has no other option but to write about her romance.
“I’m in a very happy, healthy relationship right now, and I’ve never written a love song in my life until the last two and a half years,” Wilson tells American Songwriter. “He makes it very easy for me to do that. If I’m going through things, if I’m going through a breakup, or if I’m dealing with a family member being super sick, I’m writing about that.
“I’m really trying to tune into those things, those true feelings,” she adds. “It’s important for me to take advantage of those feelings and not be scared of them. If anything, it helps me navigate my way through the entire situation and helps me out on the other end of it.”
Wilson’s relationship with Hodges began as her career was exploding. She earned her first No. 1 song with her 2020 hit, “Things a Man Oughta Know,” kicking off a string of successes that includes tours, more chart-topping singles, numerous awards, and a coveted spot on the Paramount+ drama, Yellowstone.
“It honestly feels like a whirlwind,” Wilson admits. “I’m trying to keep one foot on the ground and stay rooted in who I am and me. We’re going 90 miles an hour at this point. A lot has happened in a short amount of time. Don’t count the 12 years I’ve actually been in Nashville, planting those seeds and building everything brick-by-brick. But the last two years, it’s hard to explain.”
Wilson spent several years in Music City, watching other people’s accomplishments while she was still struggling to get someone — anyone — to listen to her music. Fortunately, for her, giving up was never, ever even a consideration.
“I felt like I had no other option but to write music,” Wilson concedes. “I love writing music. Before anything else, I’m a songwriter.”
Wilson had plenty of people turn her, and her music, down before she made any headway at all in her career. But while devastatingly disappointing at the time, the rejections became the fuel Wilson needed to make her dreams come true.
“Every time somebody told me ‘no,’ I turned that ‘no’ into a ‘yes,’” Wilson recounts. “For the little girls and boys who are dreaming about doing this, I need them to know that it’s not like the movies. Sometimes you don’t just show up and things happen. For some folks it does, but for my story, that’s not the way that it was.
“I’ve always viewed it as, ‘Okay, the longer it takes me to get there that means I’m going to have longevity because I’m focusing on that brick-by-brick building this house,’” she adds. “I think that builds character. It teaches you a whole lot and my parents taught me that you don’t just get handed things in life. If you want something, then it’s up to you to go get it. I think that’s the mentality I’m going to have the rest of my life.”
It was songwriting that Wilson relied on since her early years. Although she was involved in a plethora of other extra-curricular activities, the Louisiana native always found herself pulled to creating her own songs, more than anything else.
“That’s what I would do when I would get home from basketball practice,” Wilson says. “I would get my guitar and go into the bathroom where the acoustics were the best and start writing. That was the thing that got me through the growing pains of growing up and trying to navigate life. [Songwriting] was my saving grace. That’s how I felt like I could communicate best with people.”
It’s songwriting that Wilson still relies on as she works on her third studio album, while her current single, “Watermelon Moonshine,” from her sophomore Bell Bottom Country makes a rapid ascent up the charts.
“During this really busy season of life that I’m in, I want to write about things that make me feel grounded or make me feel like I’m at home because I’m never at home,” Wilson reveals. “This next record, it needs to be different. Let’s not try to fix what’s not broke at this point, but it needs to be a step up. It needs to show a different side of me.
“It’s going to be really easy to show that different side of me because I am in a very healthy relationship,” she continues. ‘You’re gonna be hearing things out of me that I didn’t even know I was capable of. … It’s really cool when you can completely let those walls down. I’m learning things about myself right now that I didn’t even know was possible. I’m able to share more of my life. Being able to say, ‘Hey, I’m happy and healthy and in love,’ it’s something I didn’t know I was gonna get a chance to say.”
Find all of Wilson’s music and tour dates at LaineyWilson.com.