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Katie Pruitt journeys from self sabotage to self compassion on 'Mantras'

Nashville singer-songwriter Katie Pruitt says her emotionally charged music walks a fine line between 'sharing and oversharing.' Credit: Alysse Gafkjen

Katie Pruitt wears her heart on her sleeve, and you can hear it beat in her music. Even after releasing two deeply personal records, the 30-year-old singer-songwriter from Atlanta is still trying to find the balance of “sharing and oversharing,” she says.

“It’s a trial-and-error process for me, figuring out how much of my personal life do I really want to share,” says Pruitt, who now calls Nashville home.

On 2020 debut Expectations, Pruitt works through her experience of coming out as a lesbian as a Catholic school student in the conservative South in songs like “Loving Her” and “It’s Always Been You.” It’s a heavy-hitting album, especially for a young musician introducing herself to the world.

“The first record I shared a fucking lot of it, but it came at the expense of the relationship with my family and all these things,” Pruitt says.

On Mantras, her sophomore record released last week via Rounder Records, Pruitt navigates her recent mental health journey that started with “self-sabotage” and ended in “self-compassion.”

“I was trying to find that balance this time around,” Pruitt continues. “But I can’t help it, I just end up talking about what’s happening in my life, which at this time was going through some mental health issues. There’s a lot of break-up songs on the album, too. Honestly, writing about that is hard, but it was healing in a lot of ways, too.”

Katie Pruitt – White Lies, White Jesus And You (Official Video)

Official video for Katie Pruitt’s “White Lies, White Jesus And You” off her forthcoming album Mantras, due April 5, 2024.

‘Sometimes you’re dancing, and sometimes you cry’

Previously released singles “Worst Case Scenario,” “All My Friends” and “White Lies, White Jesus and You” feature folksy Americana laced with Pruitt’s trademark vulnerability. The title Mantras is a reference to Pruitt’s practice of leaving loving notes and repeating positive affirmations in the mirror to herself. Then there was writing music, her long-held, go-to means of release, coupled with the power of therapy.

“They both kind of fed each other in ways,” she says. “The songwriting is always an extension of my life. It’s an outlet for what’s going on in my life, but I do feel like the therapy helped me open up the floodgates to talk about that. Before, I would just stop myself before I could even start. Therapy was a catalyst for me being able to express what’s really going on in my life.”

Pruitt says her live performances offer a similar experience. The idea is to create a space “for people to feel what they need to feel” and perhaps learn something about themselves in the process.

“I do want people to walk away from the shows feeling like they see their life reflected in some ways,” Pruitt adds.

She’ll be offering this opportunity for reflection in Boulder on April 13 at the Fox Theatre with Jack Van Cleaf — the final show of a four-night Colorado run through Colorado Springs, Denver and Fort Collins. Don’t worry, “it’s a rock show,” Pruitt confirms. But it’s OK if you feel like shedding a tear or two.

“I want people to have fucking fun,” she says. “I want people to dance and party, but also there are songs that might make you cry, so there’s a little of both. But that’s life, right? The ebb and flow. Sometimes you’re dancing, and sometimes you cry.”

Katie Pruitt’s second LP, ‘Mantras,‘ was released April 5. Courtesy: Rounder Records 

‘Turn the pressure into a playground’

Now that Mantras is officially out in the world, Pruitt says she’s feeling “relieved” more than anything, as she paces around the parking lot of the historic Kessler Theater in Dallas after finishing up soundcheck.

“Everybody says the second record is the hardest one. I didn’t want to believe them, but now I do,” she says with a laugh. “It’s sort of hard to have one other thing to compare it to. I’m just ready for it to be out and start working on the third one and building up a catalog.”

While she mentions new material, she knows the next album won’t start coming together for another a year or so — especially with the current tour, and how it’s “almost fucking impossible to find a private moment with a guitar.”

The two record cycles are hard to compare since she approached each one differently. For Expectations, most tracks were recorded in the studio live with a band, while Mantras required more workshopping and took into account input from producers Jake Finch and Collin Pastore, both known for their work with indie-rock supergroup boygenius.

“They brought a really fun, light-hearted energy to the process that I really was needing,” she recalls. “I was needing it to feel like I don’t have to do this — I get to do this. It turned the pressure into a playground.”

Pruitt admits she got into her head and wanted the recent release to be “the greatest thing ever.” In the end, she got more out of it than she could have imagined.

“It’s kind of ironic because I feel like I was struggling mentally and it led me to therapy, which ended up being a really good thing and being what a lot of the songs are about,” she says. “It’s just overcoming this internal battle with myself of feeling like enough and being OK on a daily basis.” 

ON THE BILL: Katie Pruitt with Jack Van Cleaf. 8 p.m. Saturday, April 13, Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder. Tickets here.


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