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Kaitlin Butts: 

A truly one-of-a-kind artist, Kaitlin Butts has a deep affinity for country music’s more theatrical side: the extravagant storytelling, dazzling showmanship, songs embedded with both unbridled emotion and quick-fire humor. After discovering her passion for performing as a little girl, the Tulsa native later brought her boundless energy and radiant voice to her own unapologetic yet soulful songwriting. When it came time to create her third album, the Nashville-based musician leaned into her lifelong love of musical theater and dreamed up a modern-day reimagining of the soundtrack to her all-time favorite musical, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! The result: a high-concept but candidly autobiographical LP called Roadrunner!, whose 17 powerhouse songs show the full force and extraordinary depth of Butts’ artistry for the very first time.

“Every summer when I was a kid my parents would take me to see a performance of Oklahoma! at a local amphitheater, and I’ve felt such a strong connection to it my entire life,” says Butts, who first conceptualized Roadrunner! during a pandemic rewatching of the film with her husband, Flatland Cavalry frontman Cleto Cordero. “It’s a love story but there’s also a murder and a little bit of an acid-trippy feel to it at times; it’s set in the same place where I come from. Once I got the idea for this album I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before, and it turned into something that completely encompasses who I am and what I love.”

Produced by Oran Thornton (Brent Cobb, Logan Brill), Roadrunner! marks a major tonal shift from Butts’ 2022 sophomore LP what else can she do, a character-driven exploration of complex matters like addiction, domestic violence, and generational trauma. “With the last album I wanted to write about the struggles I’d seen people go through or experienced myself, so a lot of the songs had a sadness or darkness to them,” she says. “I feel like Roadrunner! is much closer to what I’m like onstage, where there’s real emotion and truth but also humor and a tendency to poke fun. It’s all those different versions of me at once.” Made with A-list musicians like multi-instrumentalists Russ Pahl (Sturgill Simpson, Kacey Musgraves) and Lex Price (Miranda Lambert, Parker McCollum), Roadrunner! ultimately matches that multidimensionality with a lush and fiery sound informed by Butts’ eclectic influences (outlaw country, strong-minded country-pop, timeless rock-and-roll, and more).

As Butts reveals, the making of Roadrunner! served as an essential milestone in her journey as an artist, allowing for the fullest expression yet of the larger-than-life vision she’s long brought to her work (e.g., her cinematic videos, high-wattage stage presence, exquisitely curated costumes reflecting her fondness for sequins and fringe). “Some artists get up onstage in their T-shirts and jeans and do their thing, but what comes naturally to me is the drama and going that extra mile to try to create an immersive experience,” she says. “The more I pull from my musical-theater background, the more emboldened I am. Making this album showed me that little ideas can grow and take on a life on their own, and it’s so exciting to know that sticking with my vision can lead to something bigger than I ever even imagined.”