RaeLynn is counting down the days until March 24 when WildHorse, her debut Warner Music Nashville project and her first full-length disc after 2015's EP Me on Big Machine, will be released.
"I am so excited," she beams to Billboard. "I've been working on this record for five years, and to see that it's coming out -- and to know that it's not changing -- is one of the coolest things ever."
The singer admits she's been anticipating the fan reaction for a while. "As an artist and a songwriter, I'm always creating and writing something new. I always am thinking, 'Is this the right record? Should I put this song or that song on it?' But when I turned this one in, I said, 'It's done. There's nothing more I can add to it. It's completed.'"
Though she will likely be up at the stroke of midnight to see the release on digital retailers, don't be surprised if you see her at the record store too -- just to make sure her album is there. "We live in such a digital world, but there's nothing like holding it in your hand as a physical CD," she says. "I never thought we would get to this point. There have been so many starts and stops and times where I thought that this wasn't going to happen. To put this record out at such an amazing time in country music is very special."
Known for her stint on season 2 of NBC's The Voice, RaeLynn has been on the road opening for her coach from the reality competition, Blake Shelton. She says that his real-life personality is the same as what you see on the small screen. "He is so hilarious," she says. "He's one of the most fun people to be out on the road with. I learn something from him every chance I get. One thing that I love about Blake is the fact that he is so much himself onstage. If you weren't a fan of his when you went to the show, you leave and you're not just a fan; you think you're his best friend. He's such an incredible entertainer and communicator."
Having made her name at country radio with 2014's "God Made Girls," she aimed for a more dramatic feel with the first WildHorse single, "Love Triangle," which stemmed from real life. "I wrote the song when I was 18 years old about my perspective of my parents' divorce. It's definitely a scary thing to put a song out where you are vulnerable. Coming from 'God Made Girls' and 'For a Boy,' I wanted to come out with something that was me 100 percent. You can't lose by wearing your heart on your sleeve."
As for the title track of her upcoming album, it's a nod to her family roots. "My grandmother wrote a poem about my mom called Wild Horse. It was talking about how she was the good kind of crazy, and she couldn't imagine her any other way. When my mom was reading me the poem, I thought that name would be the perfect title track to this record."
Of interest to her younger fans might be the lyrics of "Insecure," which she hopes will serve as an inspiration to them. She says the idea behind the song is if she were giving herself a pep talk about feeling insecure. "I might be going out with my husband and there's this hot chick walking by and I tell him, 'I know she's good-looking. You don't even have to lie.' He will say, 'I only have eyes for you. I know you think she's beautiful, but you're my girl.' I think that's something that all of us girls do. That's why I got the idea for the lyric, 'You might think she's a 10, but she don't count to him.' Even though I might notice their beauty, [my husband] notices mine. I'm really thankful for that."
The singer/songwriter admits that in life, one needs a thick skin. Being introduced to audiences on a show such as The Voice has its pros as well as its cons -- with fans feeling free to state their online opinions. "At the end of the day, those people are just internet trolls. They want to be mean because they think they can. I think half the things people say, if they were in front of you, they wouldn't say them. You just have to look for the better in people."
One thing that the Texas native keeps an eye on -- in addition to her career -- is her diabetes. The singer has recently partnered with Novo Nordisk, a world leader in diabetes care, as a spokesperson for their Patient Ambassador Education Program. "I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was 12 years old," RaeLynn says. "It's something I've always had to deal with, before I ever wanted to be a singer. I deal with it every single day -- the ups, the downs, every single part of it. I know what it's like to be scared, and to think that I can't follow my dreams because of it. I just wanted to be an advocate of it, and to tell my story, and about how I handle it."
WildHorse is the first album for the singer on Warner Bros., a label that has given her the artistic license to be herself. "They are so great at championing new talent and letting artists be artists," she says. "They take the music that you create and find a place for it. I think that's something that every label should take note of. I'm so grateful to be at a place like this, where I can be the artist I've always wanted to be."
The album features guest appearances from labelmates Dan + Shay, as well as her cousin, Christian performer Leeland Mooring, who cameos on "Young." His appearance makes the disc even more momentous for her. "He's my family, so he's been a big supporter of mine. I look up to him in so many ways; he's been nominated for Grammys. He's an amazing artist, so to have him involved with the album was really special."
With next week's release of WildHorse, it's full speed ahead for RaeLynn -- and she wouldn't have it any other way. Most of all, she is enjoying taking her music to her fans in concert. "My live show is my favorite part of what I do. I love connecting with the fans and taking the music that I sing and write out to them. It's so little of what we get to do. We are normally doing interviews or press, and that stuff is fun, but the reason we all got started in country music was because we love to sing and be onstage. That's why I make sure I have stage time. It makes me realize why I do what I do."