Established hitmaker Nicolle Galyon has pulled music lovers in with her captivatingly clever and honest songwriting style for a while now. Galyon has an incredible way of uniquely specifying perspectives and situations centered around common musical concepts. With that talent, she’s helped others tell their stories, and her told part of her own with her debut EP Firstborn. Leading with truth and vulnerability, Galyon has now flipped to the next chapter in her artist-songwriter story with her sophomore project Second Wife.
The title itself entices you to take a seat and listen to the six-song EP primarily created by Galyon and her husband, fellow award-winning songsmith Rodney Clawson. The couple wrote all but one of tracks, “Under The Rainbow.,” included as an homage to Galyon’s hometown of Sterling, Kansas, where she and her family recently moved to.
Released on their 16th wedding anniversary (Oct. 13), Galyon and Clawson crafted the collection over a long weekend at their farm outside of Nashville and recorded it with co-producers Jimmy Robbins and King Henry at the Sonic Ranch in Texas. Following the EP’s unveiling, Galyon detailed the making and shared the story of Second Wife with MusicRow.
When composing this chapter, the truth of her journey and role as a second wife thus far was front-of-mind. Galyon recalls reflecting on her work and recognizing the feelings she voices within it that she hadn’t vocalized before.
“When I look back on the choices I’ve made or the ideas that have come to the surface, I can recognize that that was something inside of me that I never felt like I had the chance to say before,” she states. “My favorite thing about writing these projects is that I get to keep it as pure and specific to me and my story as possible, and I think every artist is entitled to that. I think an artist’s only job is to tell the truth and to create from a place of truth-telling. I also like reclaiming what a second wife is and rebranding how people make think about it.”
Galyon had a couple titles in her back pocket that she wanted to explore when they first started writing. She says that she often starts with a word and tries to get to the root of it with her collaborators during session. Galyon makes note of Clawson’s listening “superpower” and his ability to process things internally as a writer, while she is more of a curious, external processor.
The EP open with the prelude, “Jo.,” which honors Galyon’s mother-in-law and was born from her one-word writing method. The couple has many other influential “Jo’s” in their life, whether they be family or friends. It is also serves as their daughter’s middle name.
“I just thought ‘Gosh, there’s something to this name Jo and the essence of [it].’ As I’ve gotten older I’ve started to realize how my mother-in-law kind of paved the way for [my husband] to be a attracted to someone like me. She and I are so different in so many ways, but [over the years] I’ve developed this appreciation for her ‘I can do it myself mentality’.”
The upbeat tune “Prenup” comes next, which further draws the audience in before “The Grain.,” which was another word that spoke to Galyon. The word soon became a ballad that touches on how love stories vary while giving a nod to Kansas. The couple would sometimes write the first chorus and then take a break to pour a glass of wine or grill out. She discloses the creation of the fourth track “Rooms.” developed from a round of the card game We’re Not Really Strangers.
“Being married this long, I’ve learned that you never run out of things to know about a person. It was fun to go back but also rediscover each other now through the process.”
Second Wife proceeds with the lighthearted “Texas Hold ‘Em.” and concludes with “Under The Rainbow.” Kansas has served as the subtle backdrop of Galyon’s songs for years and feels that its residents are her built-in audience.
“I think it’s important to go be with the people that listen to the music that you’re making. I always ask myself ‘Will the girls in my hometown feel anything when they listen to this?’ I also you need to go to a place where you can be quiet and hear yourself, and that’s one of the greatest things Sterling has been for me.”
The couple has also shared videos accompanying the songs that depict raw recording footage. While the title of the project is bold and alluring, Galyon wants listeners to know the story behind it and find a little bit of themselves in it.
“I hope people can listen it and embrace their own relationships through it. not everything about Rodney and I’s relationship makes sense on paper, but I think that’s what makes us great and great for each other.”