Since launching herself as an independent artist in 2014, singer and songwriter Sandra Lynn has established herself as one of country music’s sweetest rising voices thanks to a string of singles — “Afterparty,” “Bar Hoppin’,” “Hey California,” and her latest track, “Somebody Kissed Me At A Bar” — that reflect both her love for country music and her roots as a California girl.
Lynn’s contemporary country sound radiates with a subtle West Coast vibe. She grew up in a rural part of Chino, California, in “a neighborhood full of horses, horseback trails, and ranch-style homes,” Lynn says. “There was a dairy farm down the street from our house, next to my elementary school and church, and no shortage of cows everywhere.” Lynn has a clear memory of the first time she heard one of her favorite country songs as a child. She and her mother were in the car driving through Chino when Deana Carter’s languid ballad “Strawberry Wine” came on the radio. “She was singing about ‘the ‘hot July moon’ and the ‘green on the vine’ — all this vivid imagery that resonated with me on a very deep level,” Lynn says. “The loss of innocence in that song is so relatable. Whenever I hear it now it reminds me of times during my childhood when everything was more simple. That’s what I love about country music. The best songs are so powerful that they actually can define moments in people’s lives.”
Lynn began singing at the age of seven, right before her family moved to Brea, CA, in Orange County. She spent hours watching the country music TV networks, gravitating toward such artists as Trisha Yearwood and Dixie Chicks, as well as Shania Twain and Faith Hill. Of the latter two, she says, “Aside from the fact that I loved their music and dynamic voices, they came across as wholesome, yet sexy and glamorous at the same time. They seemed like the girl next door you wanted to be best friends with; the kind of artist I aspired to be someday.”
While attending Pepperdine University, Lynn was gifted a copy of Patsy Cline’s Ultimate Collection by her aunt, which sparked her interest in other classic country artists like The Judds and Alan Jackson. Inspired by their timeless storytelling, she began looking for people she could write and record demos with after graduating. “I had always written, whether it was journaling in a poetic way or coming up with my own lyrics,” she says, “but after college I put my focus on setting lyrics to melodies.”
Since then, Lynn has traveled between Los Angeles and Nashville (where she now spends half her time) to work with some of Nashville’s hottest songwriters and hit-makers, including Rascal Flatts’ Jay DeMarcus (who produced her self-titled debut EP), Dave Brainard (who co-wrote and produced “Hey California”), Ross Copperman (who co-wrote and produced “Afterparty,” which was picked up by SiriusXM’s The Highway, and “Bar-Hoppin’,” which has racked up over 632K plays on Spotify), Jeremy Spillman (who co-wrote her debut track “You Belong” with Lori McKenna), Hall of Famers Gary Burr and Tom Schuyler, Tia Sillers, Victoria Banks, Paul Brandt, Mike Mobley, Travis Meadows, as well as ascending young songwriters Bobby Hamrick and Jake Scott. Lynn has also made a name for herself on the live circuit, opening for Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, Cole Swindell, Kenny Rogers, Jana Kramer, and Josh Thompson, as well as performing during CMA Fest and Music Stage at Milwaukee’s Summerfest, and playing local Nashville venues, including 3rd and Lindsley and The Listening Room.
Over the past two years, Lynn has taken her songwriting to a deeper place than it has been previously. “I wanted to access those vulnerable parts of me that maybe I was scared to tap into before, as well as continue to write and sing about subject matter that was meaningful to me in the hopes that it would resonate with the audience I want to connect with,” she says. “I really want to speak to women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s — women who have lived a little bit of life. They aren’t out on their first date or having their first kiss. There’s depth to their stories and experiences. I know these women because I’m around them every day.”
The result of Lynn’s deep dive is her latest EP FIGHT, which is a testament to how she’s grown as an artist willing to reveal deeply felt emotions and put them into the music. “These songs touch on the vulnerable and intimate details we ladies like to talk about behind closed doors with one another,” she says of FIGHT, which features contributions from Rachel Proctor, Shane Stevens, Matthew West, Dave Pittenger, and her collaboration with Jake Scott (“From The Outside”). “The songs convey the push and pull in relationships, which take work; sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t. I want listeners to feel that friction, but to also come away with a hopeful feeling that what’s meant to be will always work itself out. Fight for what you love, work for what you want, and don’t take relationships for granted.”
Taken together the songs on FIGHT tell a story about a couple who are struggling to save their relationship (“Fight”), but eventually realize they must call it quits (“Rest in Pieces), though one isn’t so sure they’re over their former love when someone new tries to sweep them off their feet (“Somebody Kissed Me At A Bar”). The final song, “From The Outside,” delivers the larger message of Lynn’s story, which is that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. “What might appear to be happy on the outside might in fact be broken on the inside,” she says. “I hope the takeaway is not to wish for someone else’s life because you never know what goes on behind closed doors.”
FIGHT is the first “Chapter” in a three-part series of EPs that Lynn will release in 2018. “Because this is an ever-evolving journey, I wanted the freedom to write about whatever was coming up in the moment and then share the songs in stages, but they will tell a larger story when taken as a whole,” she says. To help her capture sonically the intimacy that the lyrics demanded, Lynn turned to Grammy Award-winning producer and engineer Ben Fowler, who has engineered records for such artists as Sara Evans and Love & Theft. “I feel like there’s a new part of me that has been awakened as an artist and a person, and Ben captured a vulnerability in my voice, honing in on the raw and vocally defining moments and capitalizing on them,” she says. “He truly has a keen ear for finding those takes that carry the emotion just enough without getting lost in it, but also conveying the story of the song. You feel like you’re standing right in front of the listener and singing in their ear.”