Meredith Shock prefers to live in the present.
The Nashville country-pop singer-songwriter candidly reflects on outgrowing her hometown, cherishing childhood memories and finding a renewed sense of purpose on “Maybe This Isn’t Home,” a poignant, cinematic ode to new beginnings, now available on all streaming platforms.
“I went home for a long weekend for a wedding, and one of my best friends was getting married. I remember staying in my parents’ home, and I was in my shared bedroom with my sister. Everything had changed, and I was like, ‘I feel like a stranger,’ and I felt like I was a guest visiting. Nothing felt like it was mine anymore; I had to live out of my suitcase in my own bedroom,” said Shock about that memorable trip home in August 2019.
“I love my family, and I love that town, but I was missing Nashville. I felt like I was missing out on things that were happening in Nashville. I had made new friends and had new experiences here in a new environment where I now call home. I’ve created a space here that feels a lot more like home.”
Throughout “Maybe This Isn’t Home,” Shock elegantly strolls down memory lane as submerged alternating synths, shiny twirling electric guitars, intermittent electronic drums, glistening keys and calm bass recall vivid loving memories of growing up outside Washington, D.C.
She nostalgically sings, “There’s this painting in the closet that my sister did/In the bedroom that we shared since we were kids/Down the street I still remember where I had my first kiss/Holding hands under the pillows in my basement/And I walked to school until I learned how to drive/I was cheering on a team under those Friday night lights/I swear those times were golden and I can’t forget/But it’s time for me to move on and start again.”
“For me, it’s creating new memories here. When I’m singing ‘Maybe This Isn’t Home,’ all my memories have to do with that town I grew up in. Two or three of my brothers played on the football team, and I always went to the football games to support them,” Shock said.
“Those are the memories that are so my hometown; whereas here in Nashville I’ve never been to a high school football game. It’s like creating a different memory completely and having those special moments that make you feel like home. It didn’t start to feel like Nashville was home until I was here for almost two years.”
Shock started working on her latest track a year ago with Nashville producers James Robertson and Jay Tooke. Together, they spent several months recording “Maybe This Isn’t Home” and finalized it before the start of spring quarantine.
“It was really cool to work with them in the studio while they were trying to think of the best way to produce it. Normally, I just write my songs with me and my guitar, so it’s cool to hear a full track. They did a good job at making it feel nostalgic, and it doesn’t have a slow super sad song kind of vibe. You can bop your head to it,” she said.
Sad and Happy Songs (Say So Much)
“Maybe This Isn’t Home” is the fourth emotive, introspective single Shock has released in 2020. Two months ago, she dropped the haunting, folky breakup ballad, “This Is Why We Can’t Be Friends,” which poetically closes the chapter on a recent romantic relationship.
Twirling acoustic strums and bright lingering synth provide emotional support for Shock as she sadly reflects, “I’m trying to move on from you/But you keep coming back in my mind/I swear you’d buy property this time/It’s not easy to let go of you/You’re in everything I see/Even when I close my eyes in my dreams.”
“It was a song that was needed at the moment, and it was the fastest one I did. I worked with the same producer for ‘Trial Run,’ and I wrote that song after a breakup. It all happened within a whole month of recording, mixing, producing and mastering, and then it was ready to go. Ironically, at the time that I was releasing it, I was figuring things out with said ex,” said Shock, who wrote “This Is Why We Can’t Be Friends” in August.
“I felt really comfortable showing all my emotions and not being afraid to cry. It makes the track a little bit more raw and authentic because it was a very sad time in my life. This is a sad time in a lot of people’s lives, so I decided to release a sad song. It’s my journal; it’s how I release things and how I get my emotions out there. It’s all me.”
Shock seamlessly shifts from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other on “Happy Songs,” an upbeat, shout-from-the-rooftops love anthem. Heartfelt acoustic strums, thumping drums, delicate bass, shimmering xylophone, jingling tambourine and vibrant electric guitars propel Shock into the new relationship stratosphere.
She jubilantly sings, “I was driving to work/It was a Tuesday morning/Turned on the radio/What I hear is so boring/Another sad song about breaking up/Another person losing hope and love/There was a time when that was all I listened to/But you came into my life and changed the tune.”
“I started the pandemic with the high hopes of ‘Happy Songs,’ but it ended on a really sad note. It was definitely a different vibe than I was used to, but I wanted to show that side of me – that I can write a happy song and perform a happy song. I like how it’s a drive-with-your-windows-down kind of song,” said Shock, who released the track in June.
“It was just ironic because it wasn’t happy time in my life, but I wanted to release it during the pandemic because I wanted people to be like, ‘Well, the world is kind of going to shit right now.’ That’s why I was like, ‘Let me try to bring up the mood with something happy.’”
Capital City to Music City
Shock started growing her Music City roots two years ago after moving from Washington, D.C. to Nashville. The James Madison University graduate decided to stay in town after finishing an internship and wanted to pursue her dream of becoming a singer-songwriter.
After putting her plan in motion, Shock played out in local songwriter rounds and discovered an unexpected love of performing for a live audience. It was a welcoming change after writing and recording bedroom songs while growing up near the nation’s capital.
As a child, Shock listened to George Strait, The Chicks and other country artists while singing in the car with her mother. By age nine, she started playing guitar and writing songs, including a tune about her younger sister not getting out of bed.
“I always loved singing along because my mom would sing along, so I was like, ‘Yep, this is what you do in the car, you just sing along to the song.’ That was really what just caught me, especially singing-wise, and I started just to want to do my own thing,” she said.
Also a military brat, Shock lived in close quarters with her five siblings and moved all other country while her father served in the U.S. Air Force. Growing up in a large family, she saw songwriting as an ideal way to address and process her emotions.
“I’m a pretty happy person, but I sing a lot of sad songs. I write a lot of sad songs, but I don’t necessarily mean for them to be sad. I think it’s just when I’m sad I always feel the need and desire to write,” said Shock, who’s heavily inspired by Taylor Swift.
In 2019, Shock released the dreamy acoustic ballad, “Broken Heart City,” which chronicles her deepest emotions after another relationship ended not long after arriving in Nashville. It allowed Shock to publicly and creatively confess her love for women through a song.
“I am singing about a girl, and I don’t know how people are gonna feel about this, especially if it’s under a country sound. I was a little nervous about that, especially even playing it out at writers’ rounds. Anytime I use the female pronoun everyone’s ears just go up, and they’re like, ‘What, you just said she?’” Shock said.
Later in 2019, Shock dropped the soulful heartbreak anthem, “Fix Your Pride,” about keeping one’s pride in check while navigating through a relationship and celebrated the beauty of long-distance love on “Trial Run.”
With a growing roster of singles over the last year, Shock plans to release two new tracks in 2021. Both tracks were recorded with Robertson and Tooke during the “Maybe This Isn’t Home” recording sessions.
“I’m super excited about them, but I don’t have a release date yet. I’m trying to take them one at a time, and my goal lately has just been content and releasing more songs. I would love to get in the studio another time and make one more song,” Shock said.