"Chapter & Verse" celebrates the 23-year-old artist's love for her family, her marriage and her faith: "That's really what energizes me"
Forget the chicken and the egg. Gabby Barrett has been facing an even more pressing question: Which comes first, the baby or the album?
By sheer coincidence, the platinum-selling artist’s due date for her third child falls within days of the release, on Friday, of her much-anticipated second album, Chapter & Verse.
But even though the album appears to have beaten the baby’s arrival — no breaking news yet from the Barrett camp — the 23-year-old singer doesn’t hesitate to rank which one is more important to her. “I would have to put the baby over the album,” she affirms happily.
Barrett and her husband, Cade Foehner, are already parents to 3-year-old daughter Baylah and 15-month-old son Augustine, and they’re delighted to be welcoming another daughter. But even though family comes first for the couple, the soon-to-be mom of three beams when she says that baby and album “are both exciting releases, to be sure.”
If the album feels a bit like a fourth child to Barrett, there’s good reason. The project’s 14 tracks are packed with songs that are a reflection of her life and what means the most to her: faith, family, love and marriage.
It’s a long way — in a relatively short time — from “I Hope,” her now-classic vengeance song that launched her career. Barrett co-wrote it when she was just 18, inspired by a real-life high school heartbreak.
But there’s no temptation now, she says, to return to that theme.
“I sure hope not,” she says with a laugh. “I really don’t lean into topics that don’t make sense for my life at the time. There are some people that do that if they’re just kind of storytelling. But for me, I’m really leaning into what is happening around me and what I connect to now.”
She has no lack of inspiration. Fans have already embraced leadoff single, “Glory Days,” a Barrett co-write that revels in the simple joys of raising a family. She continues to mine this rich vein of material with two more co-writes, “The Chapter” and “Growin’ Up Raising You,” heart-tuggers with an emotional maturity that matches her preternatural voice.
Her buoyant “Growin’ Up” is a musical love letter to both herself and her firstborn: “We’ll get it wrong, we’ll get it right. / Whole lotta tears, we’ll both have to cry / you’ll learn to run, I’ll learn to let go / Years will go fast, nights will go slow / Lord knows the best thing that I’ll ever do / will be growing up raising you.”
“The Chapter,” the album’s front bookend and half its title, depicts her life today, set to a driving beat that surely matches her own day-to-day pace: “I ain't a kid, but I ain't all the way grown / and I'm making a mess but I'm making a home. / I’m blazing the trails and I’m burning the biscuits. / I still ask for help and God is still listening.”
Barrett’s strong faith effortlessly courses through the album — beginning, obviously, with the title and appearing most profoundly in the back bookend, “The Verse.” It’s the Christian church’s traditional Doxology, and Christian artist Phil Wickham joins Barrett on the solemn, reverent track.
Other standout cuts include “Had It All,” a nostalgia-soaked reflection on Barrett’s childhood, and “Off the Highway,” a date-night joy ride. Barrett also offers two memorable tributes to her lanky home-on-the-range husband, “Cowboy Back” and “You’re My Texas.” She wrote the latter with Miranda Lambert — one of two head-turning names in the album’s credits. The other: Luke Combs, a co-writer on “Dance Like No One’s Watching.”
Barrett says she was actually enjoying a soak in her bathtub when Combs texted her out of the blue with a song pitch. (The two have become acquainted through industry events, she explains, “but I can’t say we’re buddies. We’re not like going fishing together!”)
The lilting story song, about father and daughter, was written soon after Combs' wife, Nicole, became pregnant with their first child. After Combs found out they were expecting a boy, Barrett says, he decided the song was no longer his to sing. Barrett was happy to snap it up, then she persuaded Combs to lay down a harmony track for the recording. Now she’s hoping for an opportunity for a live duet someday.
That day will have to be in the distance, though, as Barrett begins her maternity leave. She says she doesn’t expect to be back out touring until sometime this summer. She’ll be joined, of course, by her husband, who plays lead guitar in her band, and their children. A nanny also comes along to help out when both parents are onstage, but otherwise, Barrett takes pride in being a hands-on mom. She estimates she spends much more than half her time in her family role, and that’s the way she wants it.
Her children, she says, “have made me realize that my priority is family and being a mother first, above everything else. That’s what I would truly be happy with, if I could pick one thing.”
Thankfully, for fans, she doesn’t have to. She credits God’s word for giving her the tools to enjoy both family and career.
“That’s really what energizes me as a person,” she says, “and what I trust and look to and renew my mind with.”
Neither of her roles, she insists, requires her to sacrifice for the other. “I’m trying my best to really prioritize and give X amount of time to music and X amount of time to family,” she says. “And right now, I think we’re in a really good balance.”
And now that her daughter, Baylah, is older, Barrett says she’s also beginning to experience moments when her two worlds merge. “She’s really understanding work and music,” the proud mom says, “and she goes on the stage for soundchecks and loves that. She loves ‘Glory Days’ and ‘Pick Me Up,’ specifically, and she asks for those to be played all the time.”
Recently, the two were out shopping, and “Glory Days” came on the mall’s sound system. Barrett recounts how Baylah asked, “That Momma singing?”
“And I was like, ‘Yeah, that is,’” says Barrett, marveling at the coincidence. “You’re doing such a normal thing, but then you hear yourself at a mall.”
It was a moment, she says, she’d actually dreamed about herself when she was a little girl.
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