Summerlyn Powers warmly welcomes listeners into her world on a new five-song EP. Her stories of loss, love, faith, and friendship meld “the fun and the groove” of the southern rock she heard growing up in Fairhope, Ala. — Creedence Clearwater Revival, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, among others — with the “thoughtfulness” of Carole King, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and other folk singer-songwriters of the 1970s.
“This record is accommodating for moments of peace and thoughtfulness,” Powers says, praising her band (guitarist Jackson Anderson, bassist Tom Davis, drummer Cole Pomeroy, and fiddler and pianist Cole Ritter) and producer, Reid Sorel, “but also, it opens up and just allows you to have a great time.”
Among the former is “Healing Like I Am,” which recognizes the hurt and heartbreak on both sides of a breakup. “I call it the nicest breakup song ever written,” says Powers, who eschewed both burn-it-to-the-ground revenge stories and woe-is-me narratives in favor of a more leveled-out take on the end of a relationship.
“It was a little harder to write that kind of song when your ex really is not a jerk, so I wrote this as an ode to my own healing, but also his, in that time where you can’t really talk. This was my way of wishing him well,” Powers explains. “I hope people receive the song as an invitation to grace, but also I think it just isn’t talked about when things don’t work out and there’s not a big, great reason. People still need healing into that space.”
“Nana & Papa’s House” shares a different sort of heartbreak: the kind you experience as a loved one ages and you “see hallmarks of your childhood become tainted by a fallen world,” Powers says. Her experiences with her grandmother, who struggles with dementia, inspired the song, which Powers calls “the most honest song I’ve ever released.”
“The instrumentation is beautiful and sobering,” she notes. “It really allows you to sit in the emotional lows of the song.”
The summertime sing-along song “Always on My Mind” (co-written with Sara Bares and Avila Mauk) and “The Hive,” an upbeat invitation to friendship, help balance the EP, as does the rollicking “Let’s Roll!”, which reflects Powers’ Christian faith. The chorus plays on the phrase “rock & roll” while one verse references Hank Williams’ “I Saw the Light.”
“I thought it was really funny that no one had ever written that before — it’s right there!” says Powers, who co-wrote the song Daryl Wayne Dasher and leaned into his blues background to create its melody.
Powers’ career began when she was 11 years old and released “Alabama Kinda Girl.” The 2012 single became an anthem of sorts within her home state, and an accompanying music video featured Pam Tillis, a musical mentor who says Powers has a “unique musical footprint.”
“I have grown a lot and learned a lot since then,” says Powers, who, a decade later, is living in Nashville and recently graduated from Belmont University with a degree in songwriting, “but I feel very fortunate to have started at such a young age and gotten all that experience.”
Powers has performed at the Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival, the Mississippi Songwriters Festival, and Gulf Shores, Ala.’s National Shrimp Festival; ranked in the Top 15 and was named “Artist Favorite” at the 2016 Gulf Coast Songwriter Shootout; and was selected to perform at SouthSounds 2018 in Mobile, Ala. She has also shared the stage with Nashville band Cole Ritter & the Night Owls and pop-rock group Sister Hazel, and her 2021 single “Love Thing” was featured on CMT’s Next Women of Country playlist.
In addition to her career as a solo artist, Powers is part of the Christian Americana group Sammi Accola and the Holy Women, who played the 2022 Moon Crush: Pink Moon music festival in Miramar Beach, Fla., alongside My Morning Jacket and CAAMP. As a songwriter, she has co-written songs for Chloe Collins (“Do It for the Plot”) and Michelle Raybourn (“Easier to Leave”).