Michaela Anne had no way of knowing what lay ahead when she began writing her gorgeous and aching new album, Oh To Be That Free—sobriety, pregnancy, a global pandemic, and the hemorrhagic stroke that would nearly kill her mother were all just around the corner—but listening back in the warm glow of hindsight, it’s almost as if she was writing a survival guide for her future self. The songs are profoundly vulnerable here, hinting at everything from Brandi Carlile to Kacey Musgraves as they reckon with the flaws and faults that keep us up at night, and Michaela’s delivery is tender and empathetic, insisting that we’re worthy of love not in spite of our shortcomings, but because of them. And so the freedom Michaela sings of isn’t the wild freedom of youth or rebellion, but rather the spiritual freedom that comes from learning to accept what is rather than what ought to be, from learning to appreciate what you have rather than what you want, from learning to look in the mirror and love the person staring back.
Oh To Be That Free follows Michaela’s 2019 Yep Roc debut, Desert Dove, which helped land her festival invitations everywhere from Bonnaroo to XPoNential alongside praise from Billboard, USA Today, The Associated Press, Paste, and more. The World Café raved that “Michaela Anne’s voice shines like a beacon,” while NPR hailed her “stunning vocals,” and Rolling Stone named the album one of the year’s best country and Americana releases.