Album Review

Kelleigh Bannen’s Debut Album ‘Favorite Colors’ Was Worth the Wait

Editors note: if you don’t like reading long reviews about every song on an album, just go listen to the album and form your own opinions! If you want to know more about the inspiration behind the songs, keep reading!

It’s finally here! Country artist Kelleigh Bannen has released her debut album Favorite Colors after much anticipation! Usually when people say that phrase, the anticipation has maybe been building for a year or two, but for fans of Bannen, who first released her debut single “Sorry on the Rocks” in 2012, it has been a seven year anticipation!

Thankfully, Bannen has been able to release some EPs on top of her singles over the years, which has curbed the hunger for a full length album. However, fans have finally had that hunger satisfied with the release of Favorite Colors. There are fourteen ear-worm worthy tracks on the album that were all co-written by Bannen.

The album dropped on 10/11/19 and required several listens before a proper review could be written. The thing with anticipated albums, and any album really by an artist who means so much to the listener, is that the reader who is unfamiliar with the work really needs an honest review. That requires reflection and not just an article that gets whipped up to be one of the first reviews. It took seven years for Bannen to put out an album, the least I could do is take the proper time to consume the music, reflect and offer up as much of an unbiased opinion as possible.

A personal favorite track off the album is track 11 “Haters.” When Bannen revealed it was written during the beginning of her career when she released, “Famous,” it made sense. For some reason I feel like I knew this song existed and now it has finally been able to be brought to light. “Famous” is also a favorite previous release of Bannen’s, so I’m truly thankful this song found a home on this album. It’s lyrics still ring true today. I know in the beginning of her career, Bannen had trouble reading some of the comments people would leave on social media, especially on YouTube. She has since decided to not check her YouTube comments, but you can still find some witty replies on other social channels like Instagram.

Did you really take the time out of your day
To rant about some things somebody didn’t even say
I guess you’re really not that busy anyway yeah
You’re pretty good at throwing little sticks and stones
And yeah you got the guts when you hide behind your phone
L-O-L it doesn’t make you less alone yeah, yeah

Do me a favor
Sign it off
Yeah see you later
Ain’t you got something better to do
Than sitting on your hashtags
Stalking talking trash yeah
What’d I ever do to you
All you haters

Those lyrics can be true to anyone, which makes the song universal and timeless.

The album opens with “Damn, I Still Love You,” which only briefly mentions the subject as looking good in a suit and tie. The rest of the lyrics can fit either gender and those feelings of wanting to move on but somehow not being able to.

Hey old friend how ya been
Almost didn’t recognize ya
Dressed up in that suit and tie yeah
Guess you’re all grown up
Me I’m still chasing down a dream
Keeps running away from me
Yeah some things never change

Damn I still love you
Even though I don’t want to
Wish I could help myself
But I can’t

“Deluxe” came with its own music video ahead of the album’s release and talks about love that’s a little extra. There’s a previous article about “Deluxe you can read below but to recap what was said then:

“Deluxe” has versatile melodies that can be played during a night out, to a lover, while getting ready, or even on repeat in the car if you can’t get enough. It’s everything a love song should be without feeling overdone. Share this one with a friend or listen while you’re missing that special someone.

“I just loved the idea for this song, about being a love with a little extra, and still being very relatable to so many people. I had the title for a while and finally was able to write and record it. I’m excited to be able to share it with my fans.”

– Kelleigh Bannen

“Boys Don’t Cry” is a unique take on how males react to a breakup. The premise is basically stop checking your phone and wondering if a guy is crying over you because that’s not how (most) men process things. Instead of sitting at home, eating a pint of ice cream, “boys don’t cry, they just get high.” It’s definitely a catchy song that will have you feeling slightly better about how your last relationship ended. Some things are beyond your control and instead of obsessing over them, it’s best to realize that men are men, they process things differently, they think differently and that’s probably why you broke up in the first place.

There’s a previous article that goes along with this song too!

“Boys Don’t Cry” is a cross between a breakup anthem and a letter to my younger self. At a certain point, you just have to decide to move on. If he’s not spending his time thinking about you, don’t waste another second of your life thinking about him. This song is about that, and it’s a lighthearted way to encourage your friends to get up, get it and start moving on,”

Kelleigh Bannen

“Diamonds” comes next and was the final song released before the album dropped. The music video was a little steamy and featured Bannen’s first real on-screen romance. A line plays off The Beatle’s hit “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” In it Bannen casts off the need for drugs and insists that diamonds are the way she gets stoned (way up, like Lucy in the sky). It’s definitely a fun and catchy song, which helps keep the record light-hearted and playful.

“Your Favorite Colors” is a track that is already hitting close to home for some fans. A recent encounter had fan Amanda be reminded of a friend who passed two days after she saw Bannen performing this song. She asked Bannen to play the song during a Facebook live session and remembered it being about not knowing where love goes when it’s gone.

In the track, Bannen is reminded of a significant person in her life and with each memory a color is linked, be it the coffee black, the jeans blue, or the baseball diamond green. She shared with The Boot:

“The song is about a long goodbye, essentially, and realizing that you knew everything about somebody, and the only thing you didn’t know about them is why your relationship didn’t work and where it’ll end. So that’s heavy, but it’s one of my favorite songs on the record.”

The wonderful part about this song is that even though it was reminiscent of a seemingly romantic relationship, it’s also vague enough to be applied to any kind of relationship, whether it be a friendship, a family member. It doesn’t have to be about a break up, but just losing a person, the way it sparked memories for Amanda and the loss of a friend.

“The Joneses” is an upbeat and quirky song about the famous line “keeping up with the Joneses.” In it she sings about how they (The Joneses) keep their doors locked, but she keeps her fridge stocked with Blue Ribbon and good living! Sorry folks, she’s “too busy living in the moment, to keep up with The Joneses.”

“The Joneses” was previously released as a three song EP and made history to be played simultaneously on SIRIUS-XM

“Suit” is a song about that glow of a new relationship and instantly imagining your future with them. Singing about marriage can be special, endearing, heartbreaking and emotional. “Suit” takes a different approach with it’s witty lyrics about only being “official a few weeks.”

You could ask my daddy’s permission
Or we could just ask for forgiveness
I’ll get the get dress baby you get the witness
But let’s not wait another minute

“Faith in You” is a very meaningful song to Bannen, as she has discovered the people in her life who lift her up when she’s struggling. It also serves as a love letter to fans in the sense that she wants them to know someone has faith in them. In a recent campaign that coincided with the album release, a limited amount of fans received hand written lyrics for this song.

“It’s (“Faith in You”) is really about the people you put your faith in when you’re in the middle of life’s uncertainty. When the things you turn to let you down, who do you believe in? Especially in the music business, there are so many dead ends — so many times when you wonder, ‘Is this when we call it?’ or ‘Is it over?’ You try to keep trying to fight for the thing you set out to do, but it’s the people that make the difference. Who you’re doing it with, and who’s waiting for you when you get home, who can pick you up when you feel defeated. It’s about the people you love. It’s also about the journey (life, a dream, whatever) and how that journey is really sacred when you’re doing it with the people you love.”

Kelleigh Bannen for The Boot

There are some more haunting songs on the album that add to the depth and many “colors” of the album. We’ll refer to these emotions as blue. “Sleeping Alone” definitely hits those heartbreaking tones, despite Bannen asking you not to shed a tear for her. It also has a strength in it’s haunting versus as she sings about realizing that despite the recent end of the relationship, it had really been over for a long time.

I got used to you not being in my head
Just like I got used to you not being in my bed
So
Don’t shed a tear for me I’ll be alright
I finally woke up and opened my eyes
Even on the nights you were there by my side
I’ve been sleeping alone for a long long time

“John Who” was one of the three previously released tracks on The Joneses EP and is an interesting song because of it’s complexity. During the repeating phrase “John Who” the listener feels empowered as they sing along, but it also has a sort of melancholy to it. Bannen sings about wanting a man that no longer makes her think of her ex.

I need a don’t look back kiss that stops me in my tracks
Someone that makes me say, anytime I hear your name

John who, John who, John who

“Time Machine” was recently performed as part of Bannen’s TV debut on The Today Show where she shared “I guess I’ve just been thinking a lot about how our stories don’t unfold the way we think they are going to, or on the timeline. Sometimes, that just makes you that much more thankful for the opportunity.” The song, in a sense, parallels with “Your Favorite Colors,” only instead of talking about the colors that represent memories, the memories themselves are remembered. That happens so often when we go to a place that takes us back to a date we had there, or how certain smells can remind us of different people. As Bannen says “there’s all kinds of time machines.”

The third and final song of the trio of songs released in the earlier EP is “Happy Birthday.” While the song title suggests happier times, the song reflects on more somber moments of remembering someone on their birthday, even though they are no longer a part of your life. Wondering things like whether or not they got to sleep in or their grandmother sent them a card with $20 in it. Despite the relationship moving on, you can’t seem to forget that person and the memories you shared. It has definitely been a song many have related to over the years. Birthdays aren’t always happy occasions. They can also be a reminder of those we have lost, which makes this songs melancholy tone all too relatable.

The final song on the album, “Long Shadow” is another blue color moment. It not only has a haunting melody, but lyrics to go along with it. When you just can’t seem to outrun the memory of someone, no matter how far you get from them. You could be in different countries, but somehow they show up in your thoughts. Bannen has a way of evoking emotions through her voice and her song writing.

You cast a long shadow
Even the highway can’t outrun
Somehow you’re always standing
Between me and the sun
No matter how far
You follow my heart

  • TRACKLISTING
  • 1. “Damn, I Still Love You” (Kelleigh Bannen, Will Bowen, Scott Stepakoff)
  • 2. “Deluxe” (Bannen and Danielle Blakey 
  • 3. “Boys Don’t Cry” (Bannen, Todd Clark, Jason Saenz)
  • 4. “Diamonds” (Bannen, Stepakoff)
  • 5 “Your Favorite Colors” (Bannen, Bowen)
  • 6 “The Joneses” (Bannen, Clark, Travis Wood)
  • 7 “Suit” (Bannen, Claire Douglas, Dallas Wilson)
  • 8 “Faith In You” (Bannen, Clark, Sean Van Vleet)
  • 9“Sleeping Alone” (Bannen, Bowen)
  • 10 “John Who” (Bannen, Bowen, Christopher Rafetto)
  • 11 “Haters” (Bannen, Jennifer Hanson, Jason Lehning)
  • 12 “Time Machine” (Bannen, Mark Trussell)
  • 13 “Happy Birthday” (Bannen, Claire Douglas, Wilson)
  • 14 “Long Shadow” (Bannen, Bowen, Tia Sillers)
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