Gwen Levey and The Breakdown
Nashville country rocker Gwen Levey and the Breakdown’s new album "Not the Girl Next Door" is due out November 3rd. The album finds Levey breaking free and reclaiming her voice and is a chronicle of her triumph over toxic times, after being silenced and enduring abuse. With a newfound strength, she fearlessly shares her wisdom and reveals her true self.
“Toxic City” kicks the record and tells us that Levey isn’t here to mess around. This song is about recognizing when nothing good is happening around you and it’s time to get out of a hard situation. A story writer might call this song the inciting incident, the moment when Levey knows that it’s time for a change and nothing will ever be the same. “Everything is autobiographical, I was surrounded by the most toxic people. I was breaking up with my ex.," Levey has stated.
Her roommate situation made it so she couldn’t even go home and people were leaning on her but not giving anything back, and worse yet, she felt like she kept attracting the taker types. Gwen feels that she WAS a people pleaser who got walked over, but not anymore. After a lifetime of unhealthy relationships, Levey’s “Man for the Job” is about finding that special person who will treat us with the respect and compassion we all deserve. Levey’s rich, sexy vocals are reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac meets Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good.”
The song’s bluesy composition emphasizes Levey’s transition to an empowered woman who knows what she wants. The bittersweet “The Next Lifetime” is about seeing the best in people even when they’re being the worst, leaving but still hoping for the best. A great break up song that feels like a timeless classic, even on the first listen. Levey crafts a compelling narrative with this hopeful ballad .
The anthemic women’s rights hoedown “Barefoot and Pregnant” is a tongue-in-cheek lyrics tackle of a difficult subject with satiric wit and charm. Drums propel the song forward like a freight train, as Levey’s witty lyrics challenge social conventions. It’s a rowdy, honky tonk banger that sounds happy, but you can almost hear the tears behind the smiles. Levey has said, “It’s a very personal issue for me and most women. I was a child who was sexually assaulted. So, everything that's been happening hit me really hard, especially here in Tennessee, which has the strictest abortion ban. That even if you're a child, you can't get help for anything like that."
The over the top “Barefoot and Pregnant” video finds Gwen Levey and the Breakdown on a set that was constructed and hand-painted by her parents. The band performs as a gospel choir, intercut with a pregnant woman performing household chores, and crescendos in a party of drunk good ole boys line dancing alongside pregnant women in maternity party dresses. “Barefoot and Pregnant” emphases the ideal of feminist icon Emma Goldman’s paraphrased quote, “A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.” The song’s sentiment struck a chord and went viral on TikTok from Levey’s live versions before she even made it to the studio.
With the vocal power of Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen”, the EP’s title track, “Not the Girl Next Door,” is a power anthem of big guitars and heavy drums. This is the type of song that’s meant to blow away tens of thousands of screaming fans in sold-out stadiums. According to Levey, “My whole life I felt like the girl next door. I went through my blonde phase, wanting to fit in. I broke out of ‘Toxic City.’ Now I’m more than that.” Levey feels she has now gotten through the toxic time in her life.
Levey brought in an elite cast of players for this album, starting with co-writers Will Rambeaux and Sherrie Austin, and utilizing the talents of acoustic guitarist Ilya Toshinskiy (Brooks & Dunn, Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift), lead guitarist Sol Littlefield (Kelsea Ballerini, Kane Brown, Luke Combs), bassist Mark Hill (Luke Bryan, Kelly Clarkson, Reba McEntire), drummer Chris McHugh(LeAnn Rimes, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood) and keys player Jeff Roach (Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Darius Rucker).
Gwen Levey had her voice taken away. She’s been silenced. She’s been in abusive relationships and friendships. This album is her mirror into her processing what she’s been through, sharing with us the wisdom that she’s learned. Now, she’s found a support system and remains hopeful as she unabashedly tells us who she really is, where she’s going and what she wants with "Not the Girl Next Door".
“Person after person in my life was toxic in some way,” says Gwen Levey. “I was clearly attracting them for some reason, but through the healing process, I’ve empowered myself by realizing my worth and finally setting boundaries. I made this record for the younger generation of Gen Z-ers to the older hippie crowd, like my dad. It’s for people who believe in justice, who are standing up for what they believe in, and want to see the world change for the better.”