Danielle Bradbery knows how you remember her. And she doesn’t blame you. There she was, in 2013, a spry, bubbly and utterly vivacious 16-year-old Texan, plucked from her normal life and placed on The Voice stage as if divinely destined to win over America’s heart. “People still have this idea of me as this little blonde country girl,” Bradbery says with a chuckle as she reflects on her younger self. “Pigtails and all.” A member of Blake Shelton’s team, Bradbery cruised through the TV-singing competition on the strength of her stunning, mature-beyond-her-years performances of traditional country songs. Later that year, she released a Top 5 self-titled debut album with songs of a similar variety. And while Bradbery contends she still loves country music and always will — “With all my heart,” she declares — the 21-year-old that sits here today is a decidedly new woman. A more refined one. A singer finally ready to share all of herself with listeners. “I didn’t know myself as a person back then,” Bradbery says of her teenage years. “I didn’t know my sound yet. Now I want to talk about real things. I want to be honest.”
A desire to peel back her emotional layers and, in the process, reveal her true self to the world — every bit the excited, inquisitive and passionate young woman who loves country, pop and R&B in equal measure — is precisely why Bradbery took nearly three years to rediscover her musical passion, investigate her sonic influences, and best understand where she stands as both a woman and evolving recording artist. It’s why she titled her next album I Don’t Believe We’ve Met, which was released December 1 via BMLG Records. And, ever more important to Bradbery, it’s why for the first time as an artist she dove headfirst into the songwriting process with a no-nonsense directive to be honest and revealing in her music like never before.
“You get scared to be more open, especially to so many people,” Bradbery says of the hesitation and self-doubt she endured before ultimately deciding to showcase an unvarnished vulnerability on her eclectic new LP. “Sometimes, though, you just have to be brave and push your limits a little bit,” she continues, citing stunning songs including “Human Diary” and “Potential.” “I just love when I hear another artist talk about something real. You relate to it more. I wanted to be that artist.”