“I finally made a record that sounds like the music I listen to,” says singer/songwriter Allison Weiss, bursting at the seams to talk about her newest album, New Love—out Oct. 2 on SideOneDummy Records—even if that means gabbing on the phone while she’s getting her oil changed somewhere in Middle America. “In the past, my records were all very much about things that were happening to me right then in the moment. As I’ve grown up, I feel like I can deal with my own feelings in a way that I couldn’t when I was a teenager.”
Originally from a small town in Georgia, Weiss knew early on that her relationship with pop music wasn’t a casual one. Instead, it gave her endless butterflies and, no matter how many songs she listened to, she could never fill her Top 40 love tank. Whether she pressed her ear to the wall of her older brother’s bedroom to hear the latest Green Day song or played the radio while she was asleep so she could soak in the melodies through osmosis, the attraction was immediate and undeniable.
After high school, Weiss studied art at University of Georgia in Athens, but she soon started learning more about music by performing at local coffee shops than sitting in stuffy lecture halls. The plucky teen started developing a pretty impressive local following, playing larger and larger venues, until she ultimately decided to evolve her passion into a full-time profession. However, with heaps of ambition but little connection to the industry, what’s a girl to do? Um, do it herself, of course.
“When I was starting out, I didn’t know about finding managers or booking agents or any of that stuff,” Weiss says, looking back. “I wasn’t trying to find a record label. I knew what I wanted to do and I saw I could do it by myself without immediately having to rely on somebody else, so I’m gonna do it that way.” Whether driven by unbridled enthusiasm or indisputable impatience, Weiss immediately put pen to paper and managed to release three EPs and her debut full-length album (2009’s …Was Right All Along) before leaving Athens for Brooklyn. However, it was her second LP, 2013’s Say What You Mean, which really broke through the underground and positioned Weiss as an important new voice in the indie-pop scene, thanks to songs like “Making It Up” and “Wait For Me.”
After Say What You Mean, which was inspired by a breakup that nearly tore her apart, Weiss was left wondering, “What’s the point of anything because everything’s gonna end?” Sounds defeatist, but it’s also a real emotion that everyone goes through when a romantic chapter ends. However, Weiss took that skepticism and harnessed it into her music, saying, “I wanna be the person who writes love songs about real, legitimate relationships and not just fairy-tale endings.”
That air of relatability wafts throughout all the songs on New Love, which was inspired by Weiss’s recent move to Los Angeles and, wait for it, a new love. The change in geographic scenery can be heard in “Golden Coast,” which was co-written with fellow folk-rocker Jenny Owen Youngs, and tackles the trepidation that often comes with making a major life change that’s necessary but nerve wrecking nevertheless. Then there’s “Back To Me,” which is the kind of hopeful pop song with upbeat melodies but heartbreaking lyrics about the one who got away and, sadly, isn’t ever coming back.
Weiss can’t wait to play new songs like “Who We Are” and “Good Way” live, which is totally convenient because she’s likely to be on tour for the rest of the year. She’s also excited to reconnect with her fans, continue to write irreverent pop songs, and possibly be a light for anyone who’s still figuring out their place is this big, bad world. “I started writing my music as a young person who was uncomfortable in her own skin,” Weiss says. “Life gets hard, love gets complicated, and, thankfully, we've all got our favorite songs to say the things we might not be able to say on our own. If you hear something in my songs that reminds you of yourself, then I'm doing my job right.”