The forthcoming record from Alie Renee as Byland is an unashamedly huge-sounding thing, and its story has roots in pre-pandemic times—months before she’d even released her debut album, GRAY, in late October 2020. Married for six years and stationed in Seattle, she and her partner/musical collaborator Jake decided to up sticks and return to Alie’s childhood home of Albuquerque. Then, of course, the COVID outbreak and subsequent lockdown happened. Robbed of the opportunity to tour, they decided there was nothing to do but buckle down and write a batch of new songs.
But last year they moved back to Seattle after things went south, in a manner of speaking: “Coming from a family where blood was synonymous with ‘loyalty,’ it was so difficult to dream for myself of any life that looked different than my family’s expectations of me,” she shares before introducing how her latest single, “Settle My Mind,” fits into the equation. “This song is a very literal account of some of the ugly moments that led to my decision to move back to Seattle from New Mexico in 2022. Listening back, I can literally watch as I walk myself to the realization that ‘I can’t make myself love this,’ no matter how badly I wanted to—and tried to. Although writing this song was me spelling out a million reasons to leave, convincing myself it’s OK to do what’s best for me, I only needed to grasp that I don’t need permission from anyone to be happy.”
Three-and-a-half years after the initial seeds were sown, the album’s done, preceded by lead single “Monstera” and its new windswept, widescreen follow-up. “Settle My Mind” builds on the foundations established by GRAY and offers up tantalizing possibilities for the project’s second album. “My favorite line is, ‘I brought home a cat and I didn’t ask,’” Alie shares of the track. “The short story is that Jake did not want a cat, but he made the mistake of telling me that if we ever got a cat, we should name it ‘Whiskey.’ So the next day, I brought home an orange tabby kitten and told Jake, ‘This is Whiskey.’ However, I also forgot to tell our landlords, and when they found out almost a year later, they said they could either raise the rent or we could get rid of the cat. We were already thinking of moving back to Seattle, but we took this as a sign to move the date up to the following month. Shortly after we bought and settled into our first house, we tragically lost our sweet boy. We decided to dedicate this record to Whiskey—the cat that brought us home.”
Along with the new single, the band is sharing a live version of the song in which Alie is backed by a string quartet—a markedly different but no less impressive take on this stormy, emotive track. The forthcoming second album from Byland is called Heavy for a While and arrives in the spring on Mother West Records. Check out the studio and live versions of “Settle My Mind” below—along with a photo of the sweet boy to whom the record is dedicated. You can also pre-save the track here.